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Trends in MR: The Year of Mobile: Um…For Real, This time

With smartphone penetration of the mobile phone market surpassing 80% and mobile client diversification on the rise, the Market Research industry is at a critical tipping point as it relates to research participant experience. At Insight’s Association’s NEXT show in NYC, the Innovate MR team presented the findings of a recently-conducted RoR project in which we designed a discrete choice exercise which evaluated pricing sensitivity along with other key decision-based variables for both a desktop and a mobile audience. The key takeaway was that there were consistent results across device-type. And, according to data from RelevantID, just over 40% of incoming traffic to research studies is now comprised of mobile participants.  RelevantID, a leading digital fingerprinting firm in the industry, evaluated traffic across the top 10 suppliers in the research sector (March 2018) to land on that number.  40% – let that settle in. Next time you request to “exclude mobile” just think… you could be reducing your feasibility and representation by nearly half! If that doesn’t keep you up at night, I don’t know what will.

As researchers, we are inherently drawn to consistency, both from a methodological and practical standpoint. Adopting a mobile-first strategy can be challenging You might find yourself feeling like you are doing all the giving and mobile is doing all the taking.  Shorter, simpler questions, shorter LOIs, the list goes on. Quite frankly, the mobile transition can be painful, scary and many of my industry colleagues have been left by the wayside on their respective mobile journeys. This is where I reach through your screen and give you a jolt. It’s 2018 and, as an industry, we’ve ignored this pressing issue for far too long. The time for mobile, for proper representation, and for adaptability, is now.

An Ecosystem

When we talk about mobile as a means to improve participant experience we can’t help but confront a looming issue: the footprint of people willing to take surveys is shrinking. The succession of social media over the eyes (and attention-spans) of potential survey participants requires that competing industries—market research included—become more adaptable to the new and changing landscape of engagement. Survey participants are, in some ways, the polar ice caps of market research; their ecological health is representative of the industry as a whole and—once they ‘melt’—it’s hard to return to a point of stasis; the damage has been irrevocably done. For the health and future of our market research ecosystem, it’s imperative that we make sure participants are satisfied with their survey experience.

Conservation is Key

As responsible citizens of the research environment, it’s our duty to provide ease in the modes of survey participation. We all know that as the level of difficulty in a survey goes up, participation plummets. When designing surveys, we must ask ourselves, “Are we making this more difficult or longer than it needs to be?” Answering this question will require that we exercise discipline and establish new and more rigorous guidelines in our design process. Similarly, when we begin to rethink the ways in which we approach participants, we need to take into account the heavy burden participants feel when navigating our especially laborious surveys. How can we compound the various facets of what we need to know in one, concise question? These obstacles, while daunting, require that we activate one of the most enduring skills of market research professionals: getting to the heart of what people want and why they want it. Why should our surveys be any different?

Cross-Platform Accuracy AND Enjoyment

Participants, as well as the rest of the world, are on their phones 24/7 so we need to work harder to engage them on that device. We all know our surveys need to be mobile but designing—and doing so with participant experience firmly in focus—is an important aspect not to be overlooked. Building a survey for both desktop and mobile seems simple on the surface. However, when attempting a seamless finish across modes, the task at hand can feel incredibly daunting. At the same time, participants on their desktops are often in a different mind space than those on the go via their phones. How do we make both mobile and desktop experiences positive for the participant, yet keep our data quality consistent and of the highest integrity?

The Bottom Line

We need participant representation, and to get that representation, we need to work to fully engage and excite our participants—both by meeting them on their platform of choice and creating for that platform in a way that appeals. When representation is lacking from research, the value, relevance, and ROI of MR is called into question. What can we—as researchers, as conservationists, and as good citizens of the MR ecosystem—do to maintain the long-term viability of market research?

Let’s really, truly meet them on mobile. That’s where our participants spend their time, and they have very specific wants and needs for their interaction with our surveys on mobile. Work done by the GRBN on the topic has been effective in spurring many to sign on and join the cause. Similarly, firms like UBMobile have been doing great work on the mobile front, constructing well-designed and beautifully rendered mobile survey platforms. While many researchers agree that the issue of mobilization is an important one, a united shift across the MR food chain is still on the horizon.

Much of this work needs to happen on the brand level; while many key brands have made changes to their research procedure, we are still in the process of measuring the holistic impact of these changes on research processes. That being said, insights’ departments and researchers who make the full shift to mobile and focus more on participant experiences across the board now will become the case studies—and the forerunners—of the future of market research.

Lisa Wilding-Brown, Innovate MR

This article was orginally sourced from:

Women in Research (WIRe)



The Australian Market and Social Research Society is linked globally to 45 associations through its partnership with the Global Research Business Network (GRBN) and the Asia Pacific Research Committee (APRC). Click here to read about the AMSRS global network. This article is originally sourced from GRBN website.


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