ESOMAR's fresh annual industry report will be officially released next week at the annual conference in Istanbul but we got a sneak preview of the thing. It's quite a read at 140 pages but it's well worth your time.
I was naturally interested in the mobile aspect of the research industry so here are a few highlights from the report. RW Connect has also published a brief overview for those short in time.
By the way, the term "mobile" itself can be misleading as around 60% of mobile usage actually takes place at home and 46% when people are relaxing, in "me time". Not-so-on-the-go generation?
In many developing markets, the desktop-laptop stage has been leapfrogged, and internet access has only ever been via mobile. Even in the US more than half of the mobile users go online with their mobile device, and nearly a third of those say that it's their main access point to the internet.
In countries where people can't be easily reached through traditional methods (China, India, most of Africa) mobile survey results are comparable to face-to-face research, says our very own Alistair Hill. Because the research is self-completed, there's no interviewer bias, no fake forms filled in by dishonest subcontractors, and flat-liners can be quickly shifted out.
There's clear danger in simply taking traditional methodologies and porting them to mobile - limitations of the smaller devices and context of where they are being used, need to be taking into account. Very few people are willing to answer a 45-minute survey on their mobile. Splitting research up into chunks is the key.
"People have been getting away with ugly, wordy surveys for a long time. It's not like a radical change is needed, but if you're going to write a verbose questions and not take the time to edit and be succinct, you're going to lose," says Andrew Grenville, chief research officer at Vision Critical.
Market research companies are seeing mobile devices not as just another channel to deliver surveys. The value of mobile is that it can go beyond asking questions, the features in a mobile device (e.g. geolocation, audio, video) can lead to better research. However, this rich data will pose a great challenge in the analysis phase.
As more people realise how much their mobile reveals of their everyday habits privacy overall is becoming a big challenge for the market research industry. The abundance of data is a potential gold mine and a mine field. The paradox is that, despite being protective of their privacy, the people themselves give away plenty about themselves on social networks.