The lowdown on mobile research

Nick Hirst

We all want to get to the truth about people's behaviour. Often, we're confounded by misremembering, post-rationalisation, and outright lies. Mobile-based market research tools may have the answer.

Using mobile for research isn't new: Ipsos introduced SMS surveys back in 2000. But now, agencies are exploiting smartphone functionality and ubiquity to capture different (often qualitative) kinds of data and uncover new insights. Generally, the idea is that respondents use an app to record video, images and text when they're 'in the moment'. Sometimes they're 'surprised' with questions at a particular time (like eating breakfast or bar-hopping); sometimes they activate the app whenever they engage in a certain activity (like cooking).

Flamingo's Field Notes, for example, is designed to make it easy for respondents to document their lives with video or images (and easy for clients to access and use the content). Egg Strategy's Over-The-Shoulder app can geostamp entries. The benefit, say both, is in discovering behaviour and feelings respondents often don't remember – or would rather forget – in an interview.