Worth a read

Researching the mobile consumer

The world is going mobile at an exponential rate In 2011, Apple sold more iOS devices (156M) than the total number of Macs sold in all 28 years of its existence (122M).

Google recently announced that 850,000 new Android devices are activated daily and the total number of Android devices around the globe has surpassed 300 million.

It has been estimated that there will be one billion smart mobile devices in-use globally sometime between December 2012 and June 2013.

This rapid proliferation of smartphones and tablets is changing how consumers make purchase decisions and interact with brands.

Increasingly, purchase decisions are being made with the aid of user-generated content such as online reviews and peer opinions found on social media and this is being accessed at or close to the point of purchase. Indeed 48% of consumers say their mobile is a significant influencing factor when making a purchase decision.

This means that it is now vital for businesses to approach marketing and research through a mobile lens. The future of online is mobile!

Understanding the consumer in the moment

The opportunity this presents to harness the smartphones ability for instant media consumption and real time customer insights is key.

Mobile devices integrate and change touch points. Mobile is so immersed in our lives we barely notice it. Behaviours will change further, more and more devices will be connected and our children won’t know anything other than smart devices.

This means that mobile research offers a real benefit in generating real time insights. Traditional ‘recall’ surveys can be inaccurate with their reliance on human ‘memory’, but by using mobile to turn recall surveys to immediate point of interest surveys the data can be more reliable.

So, mobile research is actually contextualised research allowing researchers to get a better overall view of respondents’ natural behaviours.

IKEA customers have a higher than usual smart phone penetration. They created the ability to capture customer unique experiences at the time they are interacting with the brand. Which was ground breaking for IKEA. It even allowed customer issues and concerns to be addressed before the customer even left the store!

The way consumers feel has a direct impact on how they behave, and mobile also presents an ideal tool to harness this, capturing the contrasts between what consumer say they do and what they actually do!

What are the advantages of mobile research?

It’s not just early adopters that have online access via a phone, the new wave of mobile users means it’s increasingly becoming mainstream.

And mobile research has numerous advantages over traditional methods:

–  Immediacy – consumers  record their interaction with brands as they happen.
–  Timeliness – gain instant access to results and analysis
–  Less recall issues – real time feedback
–  Shorter surveys – less onerous for the consumer
–  Contextual richness – feedback ‘in situ’
–  Better engagement with younger target groups
–  Convenience – it’s easy for consumers to use and always there
–  Better response rates  –  as high as 40-45%
–  More creative rewards –  e.g. free gaming apps to encourage participation.

Where next?

Today’s ‘Connected Customers’ are now linked to their own social networks, have ‘direct access’ to companies and brands on an on-going basis and are living an ‘always online’ lifestyle.

Marketers and researchers must realise that current methods and guidelines may not work to engage the Connected Customer or to understand and report on such engagements.

This connectivity means that the next step from mobile research surveys is mobile research communities that could involve customers stakeholders, even shareholders!

In the UK mobile is used to alleviate boredom (39% in downtime), which presents an opportunity  for researchers to experiment with new ways of incentivising – gamification systems, content share, customer challenges and similar.

So how can research respond to the challenge?
The cloud is everywhere and big data is an opportunity not a challenge. The future is bleak for those with blinders on, but extremely bright for those that can help design it!

Di Tunney
The Best Organisation