B2B International
B2B International

October 15, 2007

With the growth of the Internet, market research industry business models are evolving. Using mobile telephony to conduct market research will expand the current potential for research and provide a platform for future directions in the industry.

Why Mobile Research?

In today’s market research environment, where increasing respondent cooperation has been a challenge, mobile research may be part of the solution. A growth in mobile phone penetration, coupled with the latest developments in mobile phone technology, is presenting new solutions and opportunities to boost participation levels.

Within the past five years, there has been a significant increase in both the number of mobile phone users and households that have mobile phones and no landlines. In the United States alone, the percentage of adults in mobile-phone-only homes has increased from 7.7% to 11.8% between 2005 and 2006, according to the National Health Interview Survey. The rise is driven primarily by young people, with more than a quarter of those aged 18-29 moving towards mobile phone use only. The increase of mobile-phone-only homes poses a particular concern for researchers who rely largely on landline numbers to conduct phone surveys.

Outside the U.S., the mobile phone infrastructure has expanded throughout the world, creating a growing number of mobile phone users in Europe, Asia-Pacific and the developing countries. Steady expansion will continue to increase the number of mobile phone users.

According to a report by Informa Telecoms and Media (2006), 30 countries exceeded 100% mobile phone penetration, with countries such as the U.K., Sweden and Italy at more than 110%. This indicates that a portion of the population in these countries currently has two or more mobile phone subscriptions. According to the same report, mobile phone penetration in the U.S. is nearing 70% while the Asian leaders, Hong Kong and Taiwan, have reached a significantly higher rate of 125%. The 2004 Lemelson-MIT Invention Index study reported nearly one-third of adults in the U.S. claimed “the mobile phone is the number one invention they cannot live without,â€? beating out staples such as alarm clocks, televisions and microwaves.

In addition to increasing rates of global penetration, mobile telephony is characterized by rapid technological developments. A typical mobile phone is not only used as a telephone, but also may be used as a computer, media player, camera and much more. According to the latest research of the Online Publishers Association, 76% of all consumers in the U.S. and Western Europe have Internet access on their mobile device and about one-third use it. Among those with mobile access to the Internet, the U.K. leads in usage (54%), followed by the U.S. (41%).

As we examine the heightened global penetration and technological developments, IT research company Gartner predicts that 70% of global voice connections will be wireless by 2009. Gartner further predicts that about one-third of the people in Europe and the U.S. will choose wireless and broadband telephones over fixed phone lines by 2009.

There are several ways to utilize mobile devices to conduct market research. One approach is recruiting respondents for online surveys through invitation or screening, utilizing a short mobile survey or providing the option to take the survey via mobile phone.

Below are some mobile research opportunities:

• Alternative way to connect with hard-to-reach demographic groups in market research
• Increased respondent cooperation from all demographic groups
• Immediate feedback on your research questions concerning marketing campaigns, ad testing, etc.
• Cost savings from faster replies to surveys, shorter project completion time
• Mobile recruiting tool used to direct respondents to online surveys
• Another way to reach people on the go

Like all research and data collection methods, mobile research may face some constraints. Here are some things to consider when conducting mobile surveys:

• Short questionnaires
• Limited type and length of questions
• Higher incentives needed to offset the respondents’ financial burden of receiving and completing mobile surveys
• Profile of respondents able to take part in mobile surveys