Mobile ethnography or smartphone research allows organizations to study research participants in their most natural setting. There are several benefits of conducting mobile ethnography studies as it is a progressive and natural way to collect feedback from a target market.
This type of methodology usually involves a smartphone research firm sending research participants directions on actions they are instructed to take and an interview guide that includes questions participants are required to answer. This is made possible with participants using their mobile devices to video record their answers and then submitting their video responses, either through an app or directly to the research firm.
In the past few years, Drive Research has conducted several mobile ethnography projects for clients across this country. It has proven to be a cost-effective market research method that delivers high-quality data to drive marketing and business strategies for several organizations.
Watch this video to learn four major benefits of conducting mobile ethnographic research.
1. High Participant Engagement
Participant engagement is at a all time high with smartphone research. Think about it. Consumers everywhere have their mobile devices on them at all times. It is the preferred method for communicating, online shopping, social media scrolling, and capturing photos or videos.
It has become an innate reaction for consumers to take a photo or video of their daily lives and instantly post it to their social media followers or send it in a text message to friends and family.
For this reason, smartphone research has increasingly grown in recent years. Because participants are most comfortable using their cellphones to communicate, it only made sense to incorporate this into market research. The easier a market research study is for a participant, the more engaged they will be. This not only means more responses, but better quality data.
A major benefit of mobile ethnography is that it is centered around participants using their smartphones. This in turn allows organizations to connect with consumers at multiple touchpoints throughout their buying journey.
2. In-the-moment Feedback
Mobile ethnography research allows participants to provide their in-the-moment feedback on a brand, product, service, or shopping experience. Instead of asking a participant to recall something that happened days, weeks, or even months ago, they can record their experiences and responses in real-time.
For example, a retail store wants to collect feedback from customers who shop in their store. One way of doing this is by sending an online customer survey to people who have provided their email addresses. The customer survey is sent to a mass email list with no insight into whether a customer has shopped in the store recently or months ago.
For those who have shopped in the store weeks or months ago, their shopping experience is not fresh in their minds. This typically results in a misremembered chain of events and leads to inaccurate feedback in your data.
Our smartphone research firm would instead recommend using mobile ethnography. This way, a retailer is able to recruit participants to shop in their store and follow specific instructions such as use the changing room, find the clearance section, ask an employee for help, etc. Once they have completed their tasks, they are able to record their 30-60 second responses about their experience right there and then.
Here are four key points about retail ethnography.
3. Quick Turnaround
Mobile ethnography projects can often be turned around quickly. Compared to other methods of qualitative research such as a focus groups and in-person exit surveys, there is no travel time and fewer logistics to work through. Additionally if a store has multiple locations, several smartphone research studies can be conducted all at once.
If store with multiple or even one location is choosing between an in-person intercept survey or a mobile ethnography research study it will be quicker and more cost-effective to use smartphone research.
This is because it is more costly and timely to hire a skilled interviewer to stand outside a store and ask consumers to answer several questions. Mobile ethnography is a great alternative and still provides the same high-quality feedback.
4. Better Understand Target Audiences
A reason many companies enjoy conducting focus groups at a focus group facility or in-person interviews is because researchers are able to pick-up on physical cues and facial expressions. This adds a great depth of knowledge about participants who represent a much larger target buyer. With mobile research, organizations still have this advantage because responses are videotaped.
Even better with smartphone research, organizations are able to understand how their target audience shops. If you ask participants to record their entire shopping experience (whether it be in a physical store or online), researchers can evaluate where buyers go first, if they are distracted easily, what catches their attention, and other intimate details not accessible in other forms of research.
Seeing photos or videos and hearing feedback from real consumers can be extremely engaging. This will allow stakeholders better understand and market to their target audiences.
Drive Research is a national market research company located in Syracuse, NY. Our team has the knowledge and tools to design a robust mobile ethnography study for organizations all over the country.
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