Mobile Research in Emerging Countries

Conducting mobile research in emerging markets can be a real challenge.

Market research is becoming an increasingly important focus area of companies in today’s highly competitive world, with customers spoilt for choices. Unless you are close to perfection (and believe me, it is not an easy job), your product is bound to fail. Investing relatively minuscule amounts for market research makes perfect economic sense, and it is no longer seen as an unnecessary overhead.

While secondary (internet) research has its importance, primary research conducted through surveys and other tools gives direct and accurate answers to the questions a company needs answers to and has become indispensable today. While questionnaire surveys continue to be the most popular method to conduct market research, the mode of administration has seen a drastic shift with a higher proportion of surveys conducted digitally through mobile phones. This shift to digitally administered surveys has been facilitated by the ever-increasing penetration of the internet and smartphones. When it comes to digital surveys, mobile-based surveys trump computer-based surveys by a huge margin, especially if you want to conduct a survey in emerging countries. Listed below are the six reasons that will force you to consider mobile research surveys for your market research in emerging markets.

6 tips for a researcher to offer a good user experience

For a survey to be most effective and to ensure a high completion rate from respondents, it needs to meet the following conditions:

1. Ease of Reach

You do not need to hire multiple local agencies to conduct field research and maintain a close watch on them across the project. You just need to contract with one digital research agency and get global respondent access. As everything happens digitally, it can also be monitored digitally, thus saving time, money, and effort spent on travel. Compared to PCs, the penetration of smartphones is much higher today globally. The difference gets huge if we look at emerging countries, making mobile surveys the only logical option for market research in those countries.

2. Speed

At 5X-6Xspeed compared to traditional offline surveys, mobile surveys deliver results at an unmatched pace. This super efficiency is achieved through the elimination of field logistics requirements and data entry, and a significant reduction in the time spent on QC among other reasons. As a respondent is more likely to fill a survey that comes through a known app rather than an email, mobile surveys have much higher hit rates compared to PC surveys, further accelerating project completion. You save time on your project using mobile surveys.

3. Price

Digital surveys are on-an-average 40%-50% cheaper compared to traditional surveys. The reasons for cost savings are obvious: automation and elimination of offline logistics requirements. Moreover, digital market research agencies are capable of taking bite-sized-projects and handling flexible/changing requirements, which would not be feasible for a traditional agency. So, if you are under the impression that you can’t afford it, you might be wrong.

4. Quality

It is proven and well-established that every human interviewer has a bias. Due to the unmatched reach of mobile surveys, you will never need to compromise on the sampling requirements and can rule out sampling-related bias as well. Digital surveys eliminate these biases and make the results more reliable. Moreover, numerous quality checks are built-in to detect fraud or careless respondents, including digital fingerprinting to avoid duplicity and trap questions among other features.

5. Targeting

When it comes to targeting the right respondents, mobile surveys are unbeatable due to their widest reach and biggest respondent pool. Moreover, rather than simply relying on the word of the respondent, mobile survey companies have access to the digital footprint of a person, which helps with much more accurate targeting. When you know that Africa has a high mobile penetration rate, it makes even more sense to target respondents through their mobile. It also becomes a reality to be able to access respondents in remote locations thanks to their mobile phone, when most of them won't have access to a laptop. Data becomes easier to get.

6. Respondent Experience

An average American spends 3 to 6 hours on his/her smartphone every day. When compared with opening an email, mobile surveys feel less like work to the respondents, get faster responses, and that too at a marginal cost compared to email surveys. The instant rewards capability of mobile surveys is also something that attracts them and results in happy respondents. Your audience is just one click away thanks to a mobile phone.

Why targeting emerging countries?

Who would have believed that 80% of people living in Saudi Arabia are smartphone users? It gives us a great opportunity to target those respondents located in emerging countries and sends them online surveys to fill. People in Saudi Arabia can be hard to reach but with mobile research, it has never been so easy! Now, you can get into any market, collect the insights you need, and all the tools for entering an unknown market, launching a new product, or just getting feedback from your customers.  

Mobile is the safest and easiest way to target respondents living in emerging countries. In this specific scenario, the offline method won't be successful as market research is not that popular within those areas. We need to target respondents with something they feel related to, something familiar, something they use on a daily basis: their mobile phone.  

There are cases where brands are being reluctant into investing in a new market without knowing if it could be a successful approach. Some brands are more confident conducting research in the old fashion way with a face-to-face approach. This method can be quite expensive and time-consuming, especially in emerging markets. This is where online data collection comes up and becomes the solution. No matter where you want to conduct your research, this can be done - even with a low smartphone penetration rate, we can support you - as we will be targeting respondents through their smartphone but also through social media, so there are no limits in this data world. Most of the time, desktop usage is lower than the smartphone usage, this is the reason why we encourage mobile surveys in emerging areas.  

While engaging with those respondents in emerging markets, you will have the opportunity to get insights on the spot. It is more efficient, faster, and cost-effective. To ensure a good response rate, we do recommend mobile research. 

How to engage with respondents in emerging countries?

Questionnaire design is a must. A good and smooth design will help you to get a good response rate. The questionnaire length plays a part. While targeting emerging markets, it is best to keep your survey up to 15-20 questions for a 10 minutes survey. It will ensure the quality of the responses collected and keep your respondents focused. Questions need to be basic and easy to answer on mobile phones. As a consequence, your survey should be mobile friendly to avoid people leaving the survey in the middle of the questionnaire. It is already hard to reach out to them, let's make sure we keep those respondents through the entire survey process!

You need to know your target audience and we can help you with this matter. Let's take the example of Africa. 2,000 languages are being spoken in Africa itself, so you need to make sure your questionnaire is translated in the right language. To give you an example; the official language of Angola is Portuguese so it will be wise to have your questionnaire translated in case you want to research this particular market.

Most of the respondents won't have access to a computer as it is not in their habits. The smartphone is a must when it comes to targeting emerging markets. Nowadays, everyone wants to stay connected, wants to be aware of what is going on around the world so that is where the mobile phone comes handy. Targeting respondents through mobile surveys is the key to your success. You will get access to a wider pool of respondents, especially in remote locations. Just make sure that your survey design is mobile friendly when collecting data through mobile phones.

While doing market research, you need to keep in mind that most of the respondents are being rewarded for the time they are spending on a survey. Compensation is a form of reward but also compensation for their time. In emerging countries, one form of incentive which is popular is mobile airtime credit. As respondents spend most of their time on their smartphones, they will appreciate even more this type of incentive and it is a great way to motivate them so that they can spend their reward in something useful.

Another way of communicating

Sometimes, respondents will be easier to contact through SMS or text messages. Take this way of communication into account when it comes to reaching out to respondents, especially in remote areas. You want to put all the chances on your side to get to this hard-to-reach audience. It is something to know beforehand and keep as an option for contacting potential respondents when the internet penetration rate might be low.

As you can now realize, each market is different, and collecting data is important when you need to make decisions. When it comes to doing market research on an emerging market, you need to know which research method is popular and which language is widely spoken within the country to adapt your survey accordingly. One useful tip is also to not only focus on one or two cities but to go nationwide to make sure you have a good sample representation when it comes to the target audience. You do not wish your survey to be limited to a few cities. It is interesting to take the thoughts of the entire market rather than limiting it.

We can help you in various emerging markets such as Africa, the Middle East, Latin America, or Asia. We have decades of experience and a dedicated team to help you carry out research projects in Ethiopia, Uganda, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bangladesh to name a few. Do not hesitate to contact us to get your market research project going into emerging markets.

We really hope these pointers have convinced you to consider mobile surveys for helping your company. If yes, please do not hesitate to reach out. The team at TGM will be more than happy to support you with your project.

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