Online Qual: Best Practices for Mobile Consumer Research (Video)
Ray Fischer, CEO of Aha!, shares several best-practices and the benefits of using mobile technology for conducting online qual consumer research and getting richer consumer insights.
The impact of mobile on research in general, has been dramatic. We’ve had the advent of Smartphones 10 years ago. The adoption rate was fast and furious around the world. What that did for us was give us this connection directly into the world of respondents, into the consumer world. They’ve got these devices in their hands that allow us to videotape, to have them narrate, to give us tours, give us video selfies, to take pictures, to answer open-ended questions, to answer closed-ended questions. So, we have gone so far beyond where we were in the last 10 years when we used to send out flip cameras to try to get video. And then all these great things from Samsung and Apple came out that put all this expensive technology, we could have never afforded to give everybody to drive this whole mobile connectivity, this self-ethnography into the hands of these consumers. They’ve invested in it, they bought it, they have it in their pockets everywhere they go. So, think about how the world has changed there. It’s really now up to us to figure out how to further leverage that, and do it in a way that’s smart.
Let’s start with the three best practices around using mobile in qualitative research. And the first of those is video. Video is a natural. People have the video capabilities, people are taking videos, people are – totally understand how to use that technology. And there are better ways to transmit that video from the Smartphone to platforms these days that make it super-efficient, and give us upload success rates north of 99.8%, which is dramatically better than it was a few years ago.
Or that store trip down the aisle while they’re shopping for cereal. What do they see, what do they like, what’s catching their eye, what are they thinking? And they’re narrating this as they go. So, it’s really a self-ethnography without cameramen, without us, without moderators, without clients following around. So it makes it a much more natural situation as well.
Another thing best practice-related with video and mobile is how much time you’re asking them to actually record. Key thing. You don’t want 5 or 10-minute videos. Although I’ve seen some pretty funny ones that 15 to 20 minutes. But you really want to limit it to like a minute or two. And you can ask for several different videos on their store trip or their snacking diary, or whatever it happens to be. But you want to keep it to a minute or two. And again, that also – video can generate a lot of unstructured data. So, again, you want to keep your clips short, to the point, in the moment, and then move on.
And then, finally, relative to best practices and video, you want to think about what you’re asking them to do. And when they go to the store, you want to make sure you give them a preview activity about exactly what it is you’re asking them to do. So, before they even leave the house, you want to make sure they know, I’m going to the cereal aisle, I am going to do this, I’m taking pictures, I’m taking video. So, again, you give them a little bit of a road map as to what it is they’re going to do, and people execute against whatever the plan is. So, again, be very clear as to what you’re asking, give them very clear directions, instruction, and make sure they stick to the points that you’re looking to understand.
Now, I want to talk a little bit about images or taking pictures. You have the ability, again, with the Smartphone, to get unlimited amounts of pictures. Pictures, images, are critical to helping you tell a story. Video is great in your report; pictures can really speak a thousand words.
What you want to do with pictures is you want to make sure they understand exactly what it is you’re trying to understand. Do you want pictures of them, do you want pictures of products? Do you want pictures of moments? And then, a key thing to that as well is after you do have a picture taken on a mobile device, again, open ends are not fantastic on mobile, because you’re not going to get the depth you want. But you might want to capture some in-the-moment thoughts that at least give you a sense of what that picture’s all about, what they were feeling at that point in time, and how it relates to whatever the study is that you’re conducting.
And then, finally, with mobile, your open ends come into play. You can ask them, but again, realize that when you ask open ends on a mobile device, you’re generally going to get a lighter answer than you would if they’re sitting at their desktop, laptop, or tablet. It’s just human nature. They’re given smaller text fields to work with, they’re often typing with their thumbs. So, you’re going to get less. So, we definitely see a noticeable difference in depth there. But again, if it’s in the moment, focused on a task, you want to get the key visceral reaction to what’s happening at that point in time. They’ll keep it short and sweet. Expect short and sweet on a mobile device. Don’t try to push it into a long-winded story of their life.
So, at the end of the day, when you think about mobile qualitative research, and the ability to do things like video, pictures, and a little bit of interaction open-ended, you have this ability to connect and really become one with your respondents. These are truly avenues into their mind, their eyes, their body, and their emotions. So, again, as you look at your qualitative research, every opportunity you can to use mobile and inject mobile and self-ethnos into the world of your research, please do it.