29th October, 2014

A few stats hit my desk this week. All of them continued to accentuate the market research industry shift into the digital mobile era. Our exposure to rapidly information transmissions has decreased our attention span to less than five minutes, whilst mobile phone and internet market penetration grows year on year.

Conversion rates from mobile devices is high, as is general search. Next January will see the UK hit around 80% mobile market penetration, with 90% – and the end game – forecast for some time in 2016. When using our mobile devices we expect content to be contextualised to our device and surroundings, with our chosen experience seamlessly integrating with our expectations of each platform.

Our grasping and understanding of mobile expands in parallel to the market. As we become accustomed to mobile, and mobile applications, our expectations of knowledge, quality and service also rise with our experience demands potentially outstripping what many companies are currently capable of.

The second stat that caught my eye was a familiar one: ‘smartphone addicted Brits check screens xyz per-day.’ See the correlation there? This is actually a dramatic increase from the 150 times per day that was widely reported last year, a figure that will have sparked interest in the wider market research industry. With that figure escalating to over 220 times per day (1540 per week) for the average UK user, the market research industry is already over the precipice of the mobile wave – implementation in a consistently evolving, but eternally switched on market place is the next step.

There is no rule book. There are no best practices. We enter the next generation of mobile market research with our eyes wide shut, blind to what might happen, brimming with potential. Accessing mobile insight is of course, the main goal. Accessing that insight through mobile though will rely on a different set of instructions.

Our existing modes of communication will become defunct; our very notion of what market research is, how we generate insight and content, how we interact with our clientele and consumers, how they interact with us, how we access and brand knowledge are all set to be rewritten, piece by piece. Transition of this magnitude stirs the market. But many market researchers have done it all before, embracing the online revolution in surveying, analysis, content creation and content sharing.

Mobile still cannot accurately predict poll results to within a single percent. Online surveying and direct communication still reap massive rewards, with accurate, to-the-point insight throughout multiple sectors. Before anyone hits the big red panic button, adapting is the very nature of the industry. Gathering insight using only online resources would have been unthinkable 15 years ago; today’s focus and community groups couldn’t do without it. The threshold between mobile, online and traditional market research hasn’t been reached – because there isn’t one.

We must all continue to adapt to the devices of choice of our potential participants, moving the onus back the researcher to mitigate survey bias via device, adapting surveying and surveying techniques so that design, content and placement match the desire to capture knowledge, data and insight.

So, for those readers whose attention span has been obliterated by the digital bombardment:

TL;DR: Mobile keeps growing, don’t forget your market research roots…

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