The Future of Mobile Research: The Experts Speak Out

\"\"Mobile research is set to increase in the coming years and this is due, in part, to improvements in technology, the proliferation of smartphones and other devices, and a broader perspective from market research experts. Those who are ‘in the know’ have confirmed it: mobile research is growing, thriving and evolving – and it’s definitely here to stay.

We spoke with industry experts Mark Lepine, Asia Pacific Managing Director of Survey Sampling International (SSI), and Dan Foreman, Operating Advisor and Investor of multiple companies, and we found remarkable similarities in their overall attitudes towards mobile research. For instance, both agree that mobile research can and already has transformed the global research landscape. Both also believe that mobile delivers much richer data than traditional research methods, which allows us to decipher and analyze what people have to say in a more meaningful way, gathering responses in real-time and ‘in the moment’, rather than after the purchasing process is over and done with.

When asked about the evolution of mobile research, Foreman said that mobile is now used “in some capacity in virtually every study”, whether quantitative or qualitative. Lepine holds a similar view, confirming that mobile research “is starting to deliver on the promise of new kinds of research we could never do before”. The growth of MRMW, a global conference series focusing on new technologies and mobile research, also confirms this trend. MRMW is now held in the US, Asia, Europe and Africa annually, with MRMW APAC taking place in Kuala Lumpur on March 8-10. [button link=\”\” size=\”small\” window=\”yes\”]Read More[/button]

The significance of mobile research in Asia

Lepine is extremely optimistic about the role of mobile research in Asia, stating that mobile now allows us to hear from those “who never had a voice before” – completely new geographic and demographic groups – simply because they now have smartphones. Foreman holds the same opinion, with a further addition: he thinks that, given the reach and quality of mobile research he has witnessed in Asia, the continent is leading the world in the evolution of mobile research.

What the future holds

We asked the two experts in which area of research that mobile is – and can be – the most effective, and how they see mobile research developing in the next few years. Interestingly, their answers varied only in their choice of words; both agree that mobile research is effective in all aspects of research and will eventually be used as an integral and crucial part of all research, if it is not being used in this way already. Lepine further added that mobile is most effective at delivering “immediacy and richer data” at critical points, such as the point of decision or purchase.

According to Foreman, those who are not making use of mobile as an integral part of their research are “missing a key component”. Lepine added that he would like to see every single questionnaire working on mobile devices; this would result in the combination of passive data with survey responses, “to tell compelling stories greater than each could alone”.

Both experts also mentioned salient points about the practicalities of the future of mobile research, such as the increased use of video and mobile metadata, rather than traditional typed words and checkboxes.

The limitations and challenges of mobile research

However, as with all forms of research, the experts acknowledge that at this point there are also limitations to mobile research. For instance, Lepine is worried about potential backlash from consumers in the face of an increased risk of privacy breaches and the careless use of consumers’ personal data by researchers. Foreman has an altogether different perspective; for him, mobile research is limited by the fact that it cannot predict the future, read minds, or make accurate measurements of ‘herds’ – yet.

While there are limitations, there are also greater challenges to the progress of mobile research. Foreman thinks the biggest challenge for mobile is for it to become an accepted and “legitimate” form of research. Lepine stresses the need to adjust and change old habits, especially when it comes to making mobile a priority in every aspect of research.

How companies should adapt

As for the question of how companies can adapt their strategies to increase their mobile leverage, the experts have one very simple answer: think mobile first. By adopting this forward-thinking attitude, Foreman believes that “soon, people will stop using the phrase ‘mobile research’. That will be when it is no longer shaping the industry – it is the industry”.