Mobilizing Qualitative Research

Posted by Kristin Schwitzer Wednesday, June 8, 2011 11:37

A recent grad student’s summary of her comprehensive thesis on mobile market research as it relates to qualitative research, with links to the full paper

Editors Note: Earlier this year, I was asked along with several others involved with mobile research to be interviewed by Carrie Robbins, a recent USC Master’s Degree recipient who was working on her thesis: Mobilizing Market Research: The state-of-the-art, future evolution and implications of mobile data collection methods in the field of market research.

Her complete paper is currently being shared on the GreenBook Blog over the 9 weeks leading up to the Market Research in the Mobile World Conference, which will be taking place on July 19-20 in Atlanta.

For this blog, I asked Carrie to write a brief summary about mobile as it relates to qualitative research, since the bulk of her paper addresses how mobile is being used with quantitative research.  Read her qualitative-focused summary below, and then check out her complete paper for a truly comprehensive overview on mobile market research today.  Enjoy!

By Carrie Robbins

In writing a white paper on mobile data collection methods in the field of market research, some interesting findings regarding the potential of mobile qualitative methods came to light. This paper was based on interviews with 15 market research experts, and is being shared online in its entirety in the weeks leading up to this summer’s 2nd International Conference on Market Research in the Mobile World.

The mobile ‘ethnography’ gives a sense of what type of qualitative research is currently being conducted via mobile devices.  MMS (multimedia messaging service) allows for images and video to be integrated into mobile research methods.  Innovative market research firms are capitalizing on this capability for projects that resemble ethnographic studies, in that they allow the researcher to obtain interactive user generated content that shows consumers in their natural habitats.  MMS is also very useful for diary studies, where participants are asked to log in entries over a period of time regarding their habits, preferences, and consumption behavior (Decipher, 2011).  This type of research can potentially offer access to new, innovative data and consumer insight.  The following is a summary of some of the stated benefits of mobile research as pertaining to qualitative methods.

  • Direct, immediate insight
  • Intimate/’in the wild’
  • Increased authenticity

The expert interviewees were excited about the potential of mobile in offering direct and immediate insight into consumers’ daily lives in a way that was not previously possible.  These insights are often more intimate than those garnered from data gathered by more traditional methods.  Qualitative research such as the mobile ‘ethnography’ allows the researcher to gain insight into a consumer’s interaction with products and services ‘in the wild.’  Additionally, the nature of user generated content sent from consumers’ personal mobile devices lends increased authenticity to that data.

For a more detailed exploration of mobile market reserach, check out the series here as it develops.

 

About the author:

Carrie Robbins recently completed a dual master’s degree in Global Media & Communications from the London School of Economics and the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California.  She will soon join the team at Lieberman Research Worldwide as a research associate, and is looking forward to speaking at the Market Research in the Mobile World conference in July.

 

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