Five Ways Apps Can Benefit Mobile-First Market Research

By Emily Tomasiewicz, Director of Mobile Innovation

Smartphones have become one of our favorite places to read the news, manage our finances, shop, socialize and—for some—even take market research surveys. Just a few years ago, mobile research meant designing a device-agnostic survey and deploying it with the mobile channel in mind. But today, the expansion of ownership, advancements in mobile device technology and ubiquitous dependency on smartphone apps have created an important distinction: “mobile-first market research.” Brands and agencies are now investing in R&D that leverages these trends through targeted app-based technology.

At first glance, using an app has a distinct disadvantage. To begin with, users have to download an application to their phone, sign up and go through a verification process. Conventional wisdom suggests that when users have to take extra steps, their participation or even the brand-to-consumer relationship could suffer. In certain cases this may be true, but in today’s mobile-pervasive world where consumers are deeply connected to their apps, many brands are finding app-based research offers advantages that outweigh the challenges. Here are five examples outlining how the use of apps can optimize mobile-first market research.

Strengthens the Consumer-to-brand Relationship

Consumer expectations are changing. Many are increasingly willing to share their information in exchange for benefits such as monetary rewards, coupons, discounts or even gamification-based recognition. Consumers are also craving relationships with brands. Downloading an app to their mobile device and periodically checking in is one way brands can strengthen their connection to the market—as long as the app takes a non-invasive approach and appropriately rewards participants for their time.

Guarantees a Controlled and Optimized Mobile Research Experience

The variety of mobile devices and ways in which a consumer can access a survey (e.g. through email or a web browser) presents challenges for researchers. Every aspect of the survey process should be developed to eliminate delays, “logistics” and frustrations. Yet getting the formatting, question type and presentations right for every device is an ambitious goal. Using app-based research makes it easier to develop and deliver a controlled survey environment and seamless experience.

Improves the Administration of Traditional Research Formats

Mobile market research is being used in different ways, from expanding the context in which consumers can complete surveys to making it easier to participate in certain types of research like diary and IHUT studies. An app that’s designed to make continuous diary study participation feel customized, for example, benefits brands and consumers. Brands get higher levels of engagement and better data quality, while consumers see fewer barriers to cooperate.

Reaches Consumers and Delivers Results Faster

A recent study shows that 80 percent of smartphone users check their phones within 15 minutes of waking up. Smartphones are consumers’ most used and preferred mobile device. Using apps for research initiatives connects brands and agencies to the consumer faster and in the consumer’s preferred form and, therefore, offers results in a shorter amount of time.

Introduces New Mobile Research Modalities and Expands Results

Apps have also opened up the capacity of market researchers to experiment with different formats. Micro-surveys, for example, are short intercepts or polls that solicit consumer feedback on one or two questions. They’re brief and easy to take, yet quickly provide critical insights to key questions. This format has evolved because it’s mobile-friendly. Apps also let brands take advantage of the media-rich native features of mobile devices, such as recording images, video and audio. Within an app environment, it’s possible to completely eliminate any challenges to capturing this information and uploading it as part of the survey.

Mobile is a very powerful place for brands and agencies to connect with their consumers and, consequently, is evolving into the preferred research format. Apps provide brands and agency researchers with the capability to make the most of mobile market research through better mobile optimization, interactive engagement and new and enhanced research capabilities. Mobile-first research is a trend that’s on the rise in the MR world and powerful apps are paving the way to support that development.