The growth of smartphone use worldwide has been phenomenal and now more of us than ever are using smartphones as our primary communication method and our primary way of accessing the internet and online services. It’s unsurprising that smartphones have seen such a meteoric growth but now we are beginning to see the incredible opportunities that can be carried out in terms of market research.
Mobile phone market research itself is nothing new. For years companies have been conducting text based surveys, phone interviews and of course marketing and advertising through the mobile platform. Yet now we are seeing a shift away from some of these mediums towards mobile surveys which have opened up a plethora of new opportunities.
Of course some of these opportunities are now fairly accepted and have become mainstream. We are still using mobile market research techniques in a really positive and useful way. At the same time one of the biggest advantages of smartphone use has been the ability for research to be conducted over the internet at any time and from any place. With mobile ready websites market research companies have been able to extend their target audiences and demographics dramatically. Email campaigns and online surveys can now be distributed easily to smartphone users and companies have been able to dramatically increase response rates and data collection efficiency. Making the internet mobile has allowed research companies to dramatically extend their reach and means that it has become easier than ever to conduct market research.
However, this is by no means the most exciting development in research that the smartphone has brought us. One of the most impressive ways we can now conduct market research is through Apps. Apps have become a staple of company marketing initiatives and loyalty programs and have given us a huge amount of opportunities to engage with our customers. At one level an App lets us market to our customers but it also provides a research opportunity. We can easily collect App data ranging from when and where it is used or downloaded to who uses it. We can collect personal data for marketing purposes and initiate points of contact between companies and customers. These developments give us a huge amount of data at our fingertips and have dramatically increased the ease with which we can collect customer data. At the same time research companies have released reward platform Apps that can target a huge range of demographics and provide much faster data collection strategies. Our Apps can include surveys, data collection and provide us with easy access to our customers.
Still more impressive and interesting though is the increasing use of passive data collection strategies in Apps and research programs. With downloaders permission Apps can track and transmit a huge amount of real time data about customers to researchers. A smartphone tracks your GPS location, your battery life, your movement, Apps you are using, messages you send, your internet connection, Wi-Fi networks in range and a plethora of other micro sets of data. At the same time thousands of Apps now transmit specific data – shopping App browsing habits, internet searches, App searches et al. This amounts to a huge amount of additional data we can now collect through smartphones. It doesn’t have to be invasive or compromise privacy but we can realistically collect massive amounts of data. In a variety of commercial and non-commercial fields we are beginning to realise the full research potential of smartphones. We can track people’s heart rates or their sleeping habits amongst a range of these applications. The potential for medical, scientific and commercial research is incredible and we are only now beginning to realise just what we can achieve.
Research now needs to be geared towards smartphones and we can realistically start using these micro sets of data to supplement our existing research efforts. Some of this data may seem prima facie to be inconsequential but it helps us build, at very least, a clear picture of our demographics and their habits. The new wave of smartphone research is just beginning but is already proving to be the most exciting development in decades.