In the past, when people heard the words “qualitative – engagement” and “mobile,” texting sprang to mind. Today, however, there are a number of rich and colorful ways to engage with consumers via mobile technology, and the convenience and ease of access can help insight-seekers learn even more about consumers and their behaviors.

Woman using mobile phone to photograph with smartphone label of dairy productsFor starters, smart phones, tablets and other devices allow for video sharing, which brings people to life quickly, the way that only in-person research sessions previously allowed. Mobile interaction allows consumers to engage more naturally at a time that’s comfortable for them, and enables deeper discussions than texting would ever invite on its own.

Thanks to the real-time engagement of mobile technology, consumers can offer instant, in-the-moment feedback.  Research partners can “tag along” when a consumer is creating a shopping list and then continue the interactions when that consumer is wandering the grocery aisles, making buying decisions. It also allows researchers to tune in to and understand day-to-day challenges, like what to make for dinner on a hectic weeknight.

If you’re considering using mobile technology in your approach, consider the following:

  • There is no “one-size-fits-all” with mobile research. As with all methodologies, the key with mobile is to know when to use it. It doesn’t demand an “all or nothing” approach. Rather, it can stand on its own or play a valuable role within hybrid approaches as a supplemental approach (before, during, or after the primary approach). The manner in which to incorporate mobile technology should be determined by factors such as the research objectives and consumer target.
  • Consumers have already shown they’re on board. While mobile is still a relatively new approach for many on the client side, consumers across a variety of demographics have become accustomed to engaging in this manner. Texting, sharing photos and video, and other forms of interaction are part daily life, which lessens the learning curve when it comes to engaging with researchers.  For many consumers, this is already a natural, convenient and, in fact, preferred way to interact.
  • Mobile demands a thoughtful, succinct approach to the discussion. Keep in mind that quick interactions are key when it comes to mobile. When you’re adapting the questions for consumers, it’s important to make your discussion more succinct than you would in person or even with an asynchronous online platform.  Think about the screen size on which consumers will be viewing and responding; if it feels like it would be too much scrolling and thumb-typing for you, it certainly will be for them also.  If participants are tasked with too much to read or respond to, you risk losing them.
  • Don’t forget to show gratitude. Remember that consumers are letting you into their lives and, in many cases, sharing very personal and special experiences with you. The more appreciated they feel, the more likely you are to gain additional access and insights. Be respectful of the consumers’ time and reward them well for their participation.
  • Simplicity is key. Make participation as easy as possible for consumers. Is there an app that makes responding easier? Can you share tips that would make participating more straightforward? Is there a voice-to-text option that they can use when longer responses are needed? Is a tech support team available if needed, even at odd hours?  The easier participating is for consumers, they’ll be more engaged and the learnings will be richer.

Perhaps the best thing about mobile technology is, as a research tool, it can really take clients and their research partners anywhere consumers go. But that doesn’t mean it does all the work! It’s up to the team to make participation motivating and exciting for the consumer; while that can be challenging, considerations such as those above go a long way towards setting the team up for success!