What is Mobile Ethnography? | 6 Benefits

May 30, 2018

In general, mobile ethnography provides valuable insights and can have several key advantages over other research methodologies. The flexibility of mobile research approaches combined with the above benefits creates a strong return on investment. 

 

 

What is Mobile Ethnography?

Mobile ethnography is an innovative market research technique that combines traditional ethnography with mobile research. Ethnography in market research involves observing consumers in a natural environment, allowing you to gain a reliable understanding of their behavior, values, and beliefs.

 

The growth of technology and increasing smartphone adoption presents an opportunity to conduct ethnography projects through a mobile device. Consumers have also become accustomed to sharing feedback through their smartphones, making mobile ethnography an unobtrusive way to gather insights and gain a deep understanding of the consumer experience.

 

Mobile ethnography projects have significant flexibility with how they are structured. In some cases, you might use location tracking (geofencing) to trigger a survey when an individual visits a location where advertising or a specific product is present.

 

In other cases, you might take a more comprehensive approach: qualifying individuals, creating various stages/missions in the research, and conducting follow-up research. While the former approach is a more basic design for a mobile ethnography project, the latter approach combines traditional recall and in-the-moment research, allowing you to fully understand the complete consumer journey from beginning to end. 

 

 

Mobile ethnography provides in-the-moment feedback and engaging consumer insights.

 

 

Regardless of the details of the final research approach, mobile ethnography provides several key benefits including:

 

 

Benefit 1: Participant Engagement

Smartphone adoption has continued to grow to the point of being near ubiquitous. Consumers bring their phones everywhere, allowing researchers to connect with these individuals during key points in the customer journey. This level of accessibility is also largely beneficial for mobile diaries or longitudinal studies that require re-connecting with the participants over the span of several days, weeks, or longer.

 

 

Benefit 2: In-the-Moment Feedback

With traditional research, participants are often asked to recall something they experienced days, weeks, or even month prior. When reviewing results, you quickly realize that many participants may have trouble accurately recalling this information (such as mistaking one brand for another). This is known as recall error and it can have a substantial impact on the quality of data you collect, limiting the extent to which you can utilize the findings. With mobile ethnography, in-the-moment feedback provided by participants is reliable and highly insightful.

 

 

Benefit 3: Cost-Effective

When compared to traditional ethnographic research, mobile ethnography is much more cost-effective. The costs of on-site ethnography add up quickly with logistics, traveling, and on-site staff requirements. This is especially the case if you’re conducting research in several markets. 

 

 

Benefit 4: Quick Turnaround

The other benefit that comes along with mobile ethnography is condensed project timelines. Less setup, logistics, and travel, combined with concurrent research sessions, allows for a project to be turned around much quicker.

 

 

Benefit 5: Enhanced Project Scope

The cost-effectiveness and enhanced timeline of mobile ethnography enable a project to be scaled up much more easily. With a greater scope, several markets or audiences can now be tackled with one project (with minimal increase in project costs and timelines).

 

Benefit 6: Engaging Insights

One of the key benefits of mobile ethnography is the rich and engaging insights that it generates. In addition to answering traditional research questions, participants can use their smartphones to capture videos and photos of their experience. The findings of the research will tell a story and provide the project team with a greater understanding of the consumer. This is enormously beneficial, especially when the research is part of a larger initiative that involves several stakeholder groups (i.e. researchers, marketers, executives, engineers, etc.). 

 

Contact Drive Research

Drive Research is a consumer insights provider that partners with organizations to deliver relevant insights through various research approaches. If you’re interested in partnering with Drive Research to conduct a mobile ethnography project, contact us by e-mail at info@driveresearch.com, by phone at 315-303-2040.