Mobile Qualitative Research Growth Strong, Say GreenBook Survey Respondents

The results of of the latest GreenBook Research Industry Trends (GRIT) survey are out, and the news is good for mobile qualitative research. Ten percent of respondents — including both research buyers and providers — reported using mobile qualitative research techniques this year, while another 10 percent used mobile ethnographies.

Perhaps more impressive, respondents say these areas will more than double in growth in 2012:

• Twenty-two percent of research buyers or clients say they’ll use mobile qualitative next year, while 28 percent of research providers expect to use it.

• Twenty percent of research buyers or clients say they’ll use mobile ethnographies in 2012, while 24 percent of research providers expect to use it.

Note that client-side researchers are leading with utilizing these techniques. “This indicates that possibly buyers will be centering their relationships around vendors who can offer these methods, and it is likely that in many cases that means they will be working with non-traditional suppliers, many of which may not even consider themselves within the market research space,” suggests report author Leonard Murphy. “This is certainly in line with current thinking of many industry leaders about the emergence of new competitive forces that are encroaching upon the traditional ‘insights’ field.”

Need a primer on mobile qualitative research? Check out our free eBook, The Essential Guide to Mobile Qualitative Research: Tips & techniques for using mobile devices for on-the-go qualitative research.

Join the Debate on the Future of Mobile Research

Thursday’s Webinar on Mobile Research: Great Hope or False Dawn that was conceived by Leonard Murphy over at GreenBook Blog was a lively debate for the “soul of the future of research.”

The following participants were moderated by Roxana Strohmenger of Forrester Research:

Michael Alioto, Vice President, Marketing Sciences, Gongos Research
Reg Baker, COO, Market Strategies International
Leonard Murphy, Editor-in-Chief, GreenBook Blog
Ray Poynter, author of the Handbook of Online & Social Media Research

The Webinar grew out of the release of a survey by Alioto’s firm, Gongos Research, “Smartphone Surveys Prove Their Validity in Marketing Research.”

The key positions, according to Jeff Henning’s recap, were, either: “1. Smart phones are strategic enhancements to online,” or “2. Smart phones are a different methodology that could well be the next evolutionary platform of research and quantitative analysis.”

Murphy was expressing the view that research firms need to approach mobile differently, as it’s “radically different from how we think of research today.”

Poynter and Baker didn’t embrace the revolution that Murphy sees taking place. They were more in the camp that mobile was more of a “niche” part of qualititative research to date, and perhaps, will be for some time to come.

20|20’s own Jim Bryson notes that the bright predictions for mobile qualitative, for all it’s promises, has been disappointing up to this point. This perspective comes from 20|20’s experience of working on a number of innovative mobile qualitative projects in the past year.

Baker notes that it’s early yet to see the value of mobile qualitative, and much more research is required to see its value to marketers. Bryson tends to agree, noting that there is much still to be developed.

“We continue to look for ways to help researchers perform better research and gain deeper insights, wherever that means that mobile takes us,” says Bryson.

Where do you stand in the debate? We’d love to hear from you.

True GRIT: What the Industry Trends Survey Says for Online Qualitative Research

Last week, the Greenbook Research Industry Trends survey results were released. It covers a lot of ground. I put together a summary for our internal staff related to qualitative with a focus on online qualitative research. Here is a summary of those findings:

  • Qualitative research is growing, with a net gain of 10 percent saying they will conduct MORE qualitative research this year than last.
  • Budget constraints are easily the No. 1 reason that companies change data collection methods. These companies are looking to new methods and new technologies to meet these budget constraints.
  • Online qualitative research has huge growth potential, with barely one-fourth of firms currently using any single form of online qualitative. Types of online qualitative used by research buyers include: online communities (28 percent); bulletin board focus group (27 percent); chat focus group (25 percent); social media monitoring (25 percent); and mobile qualitative research (15 percent).
  • Researchers have high expectations for mobile phone research.  We did a little extra analysis on the results as reported by GRIT. GRIT reported on current and future predicted use of several methods. We simply calculated the difference to get a sense of anticipated growth. The following table displays those numbers with growth rates over 20 percent highlighted in yellow. Note that three of five methods with highlighted growth rates are mobile.

Don’t Blame Focus Groups for Corporate Management Shortcomings

In a recent guest post for Greenbook, two qualitative researchers explain why they’re fed up with the all-too-common notion that the focus group is dead. Susan Abbott of Abbott Research + Consulting and Chris Shields Kann of CSK Marketing Inc., write at length about how it’s not the focus group’s fault, but the corporate management behind all the bad marketing decisions. They point to a 2009 article in the Social Media Insider that references several examples of “high profile reversals resulting from not listening” to customers, including the Tropicana packaging change, the Motrin ad that offended mommy bloggers and the 2009 Facebook redesign.

“Pity the poor focus group, a multi-function tool being blamed for the mistakes of its users,” they argue. “It’s like blaming the chairs at a dinner party for the quality of the food.

The author of this particular article lambasted marketing research for not doing its job, but it’s not so simple, say Abbott and Kann. “Pity the poor focus group, a multi-function tool being blamed for the mistakes of its users,” they argue. “It’s like blaming the chairs at a dinner party for the quality of the food. When you look closely at most of the articles so critical of the focus group, the writer is usually trying to make quite a different point — they are usually trying to expose management cowardice or poor leadership that relies too much on research and those who won’t take a position of their own.”

They go on to argue that, “research does not set strategic direction — managers do that. Your outside researcher, who spent many hours poring over the fieldwork, can give you an informed, independent and often very valuable viewpoint. But they should not make your management decisions.”

Well said.

Let’s Discuss: Why Don’t Research Firms Take Their Own Advice?

Earlier this month, Steve Quirk posted about a back-and-forth he had with a couple of research firms that he wanted as advertisers. In putting the pitch on them, Steve cited research studies highlighting the effectiveness of advertising (in one case, he even presented the potential advertiser’s own research on the topic!), but in all three cases, their answers were the same: We’re not going to advertise with you. One even said, “Advertising doesn’t work!”

Now, maybe Steve wasn’t a very good salesman, or maybe he rubbed them the wrong way, but doesn’t it seem a little peculiar that, when presented with research clearly showing the benefits of advertising in his magazine, research firms still shake their heads? Doesn’t that sort of go against what they want their clients to buy into? Steve writes:

“Client companies spend vast sums investigating how to market and promote their products and services more effectively. How do their research vendors look them in the face and tell them how to allocate their marketing and research dollars when they themselves appear not to believe such expenditures are worthwhile?”

This week, Bill Guerin of Cambiar also tackled the issue of contradictions in the market research industry on GreenBook. He wonders:

“How can we routinely give exquisite advice to our clients on ways to uniquely position their brands in targeted markets, yet so many of us try to be all things to all people, struggle with defining our target markets and lack an original and compelling value proposition?”

Or how about, “What do our end clients think about us promoting to them the necessity of collecting, processing and acting on customer feedback, yet so few of us do the same with our clients?”

He’s got a point, doesn’t he? So why don’t research firms take their own advice? I have two thoughts: 1) They’re making these decisions as business owners, not professional researchers; and 2) It’s a matter of resources — there simply isn’t enough time, people and/or money to do all of the things the recommend to their clients.

What do you think? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.

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