Formally published by Globalpark.
The Mobile Research Conference 2011 in London provided a wealth of information to an audience mix of agency, brand and academic researchers – and the technology providers that make it possible. To distribute the lessons learned to an broader audience, MRC attendee Natasha Allden shares her personal takeaways:
Market researchers don’t just regurgitate data: they analyse data to identify insights. With all the fascinating information that arose from the Mobile Research Conference 2011, I wanted to filter through this knowledge and focus on the core themes that continually arose.
1. Context is Critical. Real-time capability of mobile may be nothing new, but when we think about what this enables from a market research perspective a whole new dimension of information arises. The 2010 World Cup got to see on-the-spot behaviours not just rely on retrospective formats. In this networked information era, immediacy is an expectation of consumers, real-time insight caters for this behaviour, enabling companies to deliver what the consumers want, when they want it. Mobile enables more than just on-the-spot surveys with geo-location capability, videos, photos and voice all delivering rich data for analysis – the challenge today is not about getting enough participants it is about managing the quantity of data.
Mobile research being real-time needs to adhere to ‘real life’ research practice; easy participation, minimal effort, interaction that adds value and is based on reciprocity. The majority of speakers also picked up on the importance of relevancy, participants don’t differ in behaviour from consumers, in fact they are one and the same. With this in mind the importance of engaging and conversing with participants on topics that matter to them, with all the information bombarding the consumer everyday, market researchers need to maintain relevancy and avoid becoming ‘research spammers’.
2. Collaboration is Key. A lot of the case studies we saw involved a collaborative approach not only in resource and capital but leveraging subject specialists to clearly define objectives and drive research design. Linking into this theme is the importance of an integrated (cross-channel) research approach. As with involving subject specialists for clarity and best design so can integrated (multi-mode) approaches minimise the risks of an unrepresentative sample, links datasets and one channel can enhance and cover the flaws of another, i.e. real-time picture diary followed up with a retrospective online survey.
3. Emerging Markets Matter. Nathan Eagle led the conference with a key theme that was re-iterated by most speakers – the importance of emerging markets. Mobile is often the only screen in developing countries, it carries status and considerable investment from the individual on a pre-pay plan, this opens up a whole new market that can be understood remotely without the need for expensive on-site methods. This recognition of emerging markets was important to see data in context, ensuring a holistic view is adopted on all data collected, it must be contextualised from location to handset to language to time-period. This is not new knowledge but important and mobile is no exception to the importance of a 360 degree understanding.
4. Meaningful Dialogues vs. Broadcast Interactions. Mobile is primarily a communication tool, this has contributed to a consumer expectation that they can, have and (often) want a conversation with a company not just be recipients of a push method. In line with the importance of relevancy, participants and research panels need to be engaged and have an enriched experience where there is a mutual exchange of value, and the participant has a dialogue with the research company – this includes the importance of feedback to participants, appropriate briefings and, particularly in longitudinal studies, ongoing support and conversation at each stage.
5. Success Relies on Open, Honest Processes. The final theme that was re-iterated at the close of the conference was the responsibility of market researchers to continually improve best practice and maintain transparency, engagement over mobile is about trust, trust can not be gained without transparency. It is important to refine design and methods for mobile research that is now really becoming an integral part of the business of research.