What Is a Mobile Diary? | Market Research 101

mobile diary market researchAre your market research methodologies stale? Focus groups have been around since the Mad Men era of advertising in the 1950s and 1960s. So much has changed since then, marketing has evolved, communication has evolved, why hasn't your market research?

Liptsick focus groups from Mad Men via YouTube

The mobile market research (MMR) movement is growing at an incredible adoption rate over the past 12 years. Drive Research talked about 4 key drivers to the growth of mobile in a prior blog. These drivers include faster turnaround time, access to low-cost platforms, growth in mobile device ownership, and incredible ROI.

However, much of the discussion around MMR is quantitative? But what about qualitative?

Enter mobile diaries. What is a mobile diary? Luckily, the name gives a big hint.

Put qualitative data in the palm of your hands

Mobile diaries collect feedback from consumers and/or customers via a mobile format (i.e., mobile app, email, text, online forum, etc.) over a set period of time. Oftentimes, respondents are asked to complete a pre and post survey to measure changes before and after completing the mobile diary fieldwork.

Here Are a Few Examples

Mobile Diary Example #1

A grocery store is looking for insight on their customer experience (CX) to understand drivers to purchase, purchasing habits, and in-store experience. After selecting an ideal mix of participants, each are expected to complete an online mobile diary entry after every visit. As a means for tracking and sending invites to complete the online form, participants are asked to use their grocery store member card. This way, after each visit, shoppers are sent an email and/or text asking them to complete the mobile diary form.

Mobile Diary Example #2

A coffee roaster wants to learn more about their customers’ habits. A select number of customers are asked to record coffee drinking habits including details such as the time of day, location (e.g., home, work, in-store, etc.), brand, type of coffee, amount, and overall satisfaction with each experience. This is tracked in a mobile diary.

Mobile Diary Example #3

A news outlet is rebranding and updating its overall look. Since it focuses on reaching customers through a mobile app, it wants to understand how the customer experience changes as the updates are rolled out. A select number of customers are asked to respond to several questions after opening the app and using it for at least 5 minutes. The questions are sent directly to respondents using the app, and focus on the updates effect on overall satisfaction, problem identification, and other feedback on the user experience (UX).


Each of these examples are custom market research methodologies, meaning specific research objectives can be addressed (e.g., increase in purchases, increase in the number of visits, etc.) In every example used above, mobile diaries provided the opportunity to explore and dive deeper into attitudes, beliefs, and values. Opening up dialogue is the first step to creating customer personas, storytelling, customer experience paths, and more effective decision-making.

Everyone (or virtually everyone) has a mobile device on them or near them at all times, so the market research industry is beginning to take advantage of such penetration in the market.

Unlock data using mobile diaries


Mobile diaries are what's called "agile" qualitative research. Qualitative research is a must have for organizations looking for in-depth feedback. Qualitative market research digs into and explores topics. It’s important to remember that qualitative research is subjective. Once a large enough sample size is gathered it can be viewed as reliable and measurable.

Wondering if qualitative research is right for you? Learn more about qualitative versus quantitative research.

Instead of scheduling interviews or focus groups, mobile diaries allow researchers to gather qualitative data in the moment, interactively, and in the palm of respondents’ hands. An important pro to mobile diaries is its ability to continually reach respondents through a preferred and easily accessible medium, making attaining feedback easier.

Mobile diaries also allow researchers to understand why opinions change, provide insight on customer/consumer habits, track usage, develop in-depth personas, and collect detailed feedback.

Notice how each of these benefits hinge on exploring habits and experiences. This is what makes mobile diaries powerful. If you’re looking to poke around the mind of customers/consumers to understand how they view your brand and why, mobile diaries make that happen.

Contact Us

Drive Research is a market research company in Syracuse, NY serving customers in our backyard and across the country. We offer custom research services in several different industries, markets, and areas of focus.

Have a question? We get you answers from those who matter most.

Contact us at 315-303-2040 or email us at info@driveresearch.com.

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