Does mobile create more problems than solutions for market researchers?

As smartphones become a personalized extension of ourselves, market researchers navigate the value – and the challenges – mobiles bring to the market research function.

We all know that mobile app use is exploding. Statista estimates that worldwide app downloads will exceed 258 billion in 2019, up from 178 billion in 2017.

The market research industry has started cashing in on these downloads with its own applications. The pros of using this data collection method are many. Take consumer food diaries, for example. They're an effective method for gathering real-world data on consumer behavior – from understanding daily habits to attitudes and motivations, barriers to change, etc.:

  1. Consumers already carry their devices with them everywhere.
  2. They're generally already accustomed to using food-logging apps such as MyFitnessPal.
  3. It's easy to automatically record location, time, and date – reducing the load on the consumer.
  4. It's possible to record not only text but sound, images, and video.
  5. Researchers can interact with their subjects through app notifications or SMS reminders to encourage participation.

Fundamentally, data quality improves because consumers can record a richer set of data 'in the moment' rather than having to recall. Data recording becomes easier for consumers, while for researchers, the information collected is richer, more current, and more accessible.

So what's the flipside?

The challenge of this innovation is the mountain of data gathered from primary research, as well as a myriad of secondary sources such as point-of-sale transactions, advertising performance, or sales data.

Market research agencies must manage vast volumes of data from multiple sources, do the analysis, and meet clients' high expectations of speed and quality of insight.

Does mobile research data proliferation threaten to drown agencies?

MDI is an example of a mobile-first market research agency leveraging the power of mobile methods while being able to meet the needs of its clients. It realized the power of using a consumption diary as a mobile app, but also saw an explosion of information.

"The data started flowing in. Then it was pouring in. And it just didn't stop," says Fiona Buchanan, MDI Australia Director. And it was precisely the kind of rich and nuanced information MDI was intent on gathering for its client.

MDI realized that the ability to process and present this rich, mobile-sourced data was almost as important as deploying the innovative method in the first place. MDI turned to Harmoni as its platform for managing these complex market research data sets.

"One of (Harmoni)'s big advantages has been giving us the power to do all this data manipulation and insight mining with such a small team. It means we can deliver great results for our clients faster and at a lower cost. It's a real source of competitive advantage," says Fiona.

Read the full story of MDI's experience

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