Increasingly Mobile

Emma Flood’s latest Business Surgery assesses the potential of ‘m-research’

As a regular visitor to the MRS’s news website,, I was interested to read further about some of the prominent developments in technology, and how this is evolving aspects of market research, such as methods of data collection. One area which struck me as having future potential in both B2C and B2B markets was that of mobile research.

For those not privy to mobile research, or m-research as I’ll abbreviate, this is most easily explained as a (dare I say it) “traditional” online survey, but using the respondents’ mobile phone as the medium rather than their laptop or desktop. Respondents can be asked to participate either through their smartphone (for web-based surveys for mobile browsers) or standard mobile phone (using SMS/WAP surveys); accessing surveys through SMS invitations, email invitations, QR codes and social media promotions.

Indeed, we at B2B International have already conducted a proportion of our online surveys via respondents’ mobile phones, where the respondent has chosen to do it via their smartphone. However, m-research potentially offers much more than just a different modality for collecting online research data, which is worth exploration and evaluation.

Many argue that it offers a richer experience, and adds extra layers. In addition to surveys, respondents can share creative feedback via photos, videos, texts and more. It also allows real-time connection with respondents, whereby the researcher can “watch” respondents interact with products in their home and gain insights where and when purchase decisions are made.

These benefits appear more akin to B2C research, in evaluating shopper experience and ethnographic research such as shopper diaries. However as m-research evolves, it is likely that these applications will begin to also bring benefit to B2B market research.

Still in its infancy, m-research take-up has so far been limited with just 2% of market research data collected via the mobile phone (1% through telephone interviewing via respondents’ mobile phone, and 1% via data collection inputted into respondents’ mobile phone). However, given that current mobile phone penetration is estimated at more than 80% globally, compared to 25% for internet access, I would certainly expect this to be a growth area over the next few years and something not to be ignored by the market researcher. Indeed, upon reading Reineke Reitsma’s 2011 closing article for, she describes how m-research gained traction in 2011…

Uptake [of m- research] has been slower than expected, but we saw it getting some traction in 2011. Until now mobile research has primarily been driven by vendors; they’ve rolled out mobile offerings to show clientside researchers how they can capture consumers’ ‘in the moment’ experiences. In 2012 more market insights professionals will start to think about how mobile tools can solve their research challenges, and will try out mobile research. However, as mobile research gets more integrated, look for debates on the “right” mobile research methodology and how to manage surveys across multiple platforms and devices.”*

Given that m-research is still in its infancy and we are yet to see its full application for market research, we still have questions over how this can best be implemented for B2B and B2C research – but watch this space…

*To read the full article click here.

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