Did you say mobile research?

Mobile Has Taken Over Market Research. Learn all the basics on how to conduct mobile research.

Consumers today spend most of their time on smartphones or tablets, whether it is for social interactions, business, entertainment, e-commerce, or other e-services. Although the list of possible uses for mobile devices is impressive, it has unlocked huge opportunities for capturing insights anytime, anywhere, and in a manner that allows respondents to be much more engaged and keener to interact with a study.


Mobile devices also granted us an unprecedented reach in specific regions, and notably emerging markets, where the Internet is mostly accessed via mobile but also by reaching the youth, who are very active on mobile and social networks.

Whether you need a quick way to create surveys on the go or need expertise on how to adapt your research to the mobile world and collect data easily even thanks to a smartphone, there are a lot of ways by which we, at TGM Research, can help.

Before delving deeper into the benefits of mobile research, one of the most important things is representativity. This is one of the fundamentals of market research after all and mobile research can definitely help us here!

Looking at Internet penetration per country and accessibility per device, it is easy to see that for most countries, access to the Internet is now higher for smartphones versus desktops/laptops. This is even truer in emerging countries where the smartphone is THE way to stay connected. Excluding mobile respondents when doing research would simply lead to making the data collection part biased and would have a big impact on the results and scores, regardless of the research methodology. In this way, your data won't be good enough to be analyzed.

Not all studies are well designed for mobile data collection though. Through experience and observation, we came to learn that 10 minutes is the threshold where the level of engagement and attention from respondents tends to start decreasing. This may affect the quality of the answers so it is important for researchers to keep this in mind when designing studies.

7 tips for a researcher to conduct research on smartphones

Beside this constraint of the length of study, mobile research has almost no limits and surveys on mobile would be perfect for (non-exhaustive):

  1. Quick feedback. Because of a higher response rate on mobile, data can be obtained within hours or days. This method is very useful for simple questions or incidence check to validate something at a glance.
  2. Customer satisfaction surveys “in the moment” or right after touchpoint. The respondents can answer surveys from their smartphones while the experience is still fresh in their minds. They can also integrate vocal memos, pictures, or videos to illustrate their level of satisfaction.
  3. High level of interaction studies such as diaries, iHUT, mystery shopping, customer experience studies, etc., via mobile, respondents can test a product at home over time, do tasks such as store checks followed by immediate feedback sent on mobile. They can take pictures, record voice memos, install an application, and many more elements needed for the study. There are almost no limits to the study design.
  4. Doing market research and access to remote locations with poor Internet infrastructures or access specific target audiences (the youth, the tech-savvy, the e-shoppers, etc.). Like said before, the mobile research method is often used to target emerging markets where the use of mobile is part of habits.
  5. Real-time audience feedback during events. To measure the visibility or impacts of sponsors for example.
  6. To test a mobile app prototype before releasing it on the market and then ask follow-up questions.
  7. Adding photographic content. Some brands sometimes ask to include pictures in the survey. They will require the respondent to take a picture of an object he is tasting for example. While opting for mobile research, this becomes all possible with mobile at hand. Brands can get closer to respondents.

One of the most important details you should keep in mind is the 10 minutes threshold for maximum engagement. You have to make sure that the survey is short and straightforward.

We sometimes neglect the respondent's perception of the research design. Well, we strongly encourage anyone who created a market research survey to test it in real conditions from a smartphone or even a desktop or asks a friend to do the same and then ask them if they would participate in a similar study again. The feedback might not be positive but quite helpful. The survey design has to be easy and the flow of the survey has to be smooth so that we do not drop the attention of our respondents. In the end, they are the very essence of your project.

Respondents are most of the time not familiar with market research; they volunteer and happily offer their time to help researchers build better products, services, or offers. We need to keep questions straight to the point, clear and easy to answer for them (To avoid 15 attributes to rank, 25 items grid with a seven scales points, no ending loops of similar questions, etc.) which can become quite confusing.

How should a mobile study be designed?

Our TGM tips for awesome results survey and data quality:

  • Text: The length and understandability of the question itself are critical. Be brief and avoid all the common research terms or conditional language.
  • Think of how the question will look like on the mobile’s interface. For example, all the grid questions will be separated with one item on one page so a grid with 15 items will represent 15 different pages on mobile. It is not good for the respondent who can be tempted to speed up. This is the same as the ranking question with too many attributes. Make sure that all attributes are displayed correctly to ensure data consistency.
  • All media such as pictures/videos shall be standardized at maximum level and tested several times from mobile devices, especially if it is a critical element for research (remember to also test in landscape mode and from several OS). You do not want your respondent to have a poor user experience while he is taking your survey.
  • To structure and combine different types of questions so this will give rhythm to the survey, allows more interactivity, and leads to capturing the attention of the respondent. The market research study design has to be dynamic.
  • Do not ask the impossible and avoid asking very difficult questions. This also applies to the surveys conducted on the desktop, but yes, we still see questions with at least 20 attributes to rank from the most important to the least important (Asking the top 3 most important is enough).

While doing big pieces of complex research where actionable insights for day to day business strategies can be questionable, mobile market research contributes to democratizing research across the world, eliminating all kinds of barriers and biases.

In conclusion, like any methodology, mobile research has its pros and cons depending on the research objective. One thing is certain though, mobile research offers better reach and data representativity, speed, affordability and provides researchers or marketers with a simpler way of doing research (one strategic business question, one answer), and most importantly, for being closer to customers and interact with them “at the moment”. This is what our clients are looking at the moment, the key to capture instant moments and real-time reactions. and to feel close to their customers, to listen to their feedback. and advice.

You have a market research project, but you are not sure if it can be done on mobile or not? You are still not convinced that you should take your market research project into a mobile data collection world?

Do not hesitate for a moment! Reach out to TGM Research consultants for a free assessment! Believe us, you are in good hands!

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