Mobile: are we forgetting to help our clients understand?

A couple of weeks ago, the MRMW conference took place in Amsterdam. A fine event, with many bright minds talking on how to use mobile as a method. I had the opportunity to present about mobile in MROC’s there too and tremendously enjoyed the discussions I had with many of the other delegates. What struck me however, is how almost all discussions were about the method of mobile, and only very little were about mobile as ‘content’. In other words, how can we in the market research industry help our clients really understand how to use this new era of connectedness in their daily marketing practices?
To kick this discussion off, we have recently conducted a study among 800 + smartphone users in 4 countries (US, UK, the Netherlands and Belgium). Our aim? Finding out how smartphone users use their phone, and what the real drivers are of using it. And: how can brands tap into the power of mobile?
The full slidedeck can be found here:

A couple of things that struck me as important for our industry are the following:

  1. The smartphone truly is everywhere

    In the car (37%), on the toilet (35%), kitchen (39% – thinking about doing FMCG research, this is a nice opportunity), while watching tv (40% – advertising research anyone?) and even in the bedroom (41%). Everywhere; huge opportunities for brands and market researchers.

  2. Branded applications are currently not delivering what they should be delivering

    Branded apps are in the ‘not much installed’ and ‘not much used’ side of the quadrant. Still, a lot of investments are made by brands to get a beautiful app on the market. What lacks overall, is the ‘utility’ part in them; more than half of participants to this study indicate that a branded app should ‘help them do things better’. And still, there are way too much gimmick-apps on the market with zero utility. That also means that we can help companies by researching what consumers need…

  3. There are 3 core drivers of using a smartphone

    In previous qualitative research, that we validated further with this quantitative study, we found out that there are basically 3 core drivers of smartphone use:
    a. Connectivity: Constantly being in touch or available for your social graph and/or sharing updates yourself. This is where the mobile phone saw its origin: making telephone calls and sending messages, but recently this is also ‘operationalized’ by social media use on the go for instance.
    b. Convenience: In general, making life easier and more convenient, for instance via access to information and tools at moments and places where they were previously unavailable. A concrete example here is the ‘maps’ application, but also the information search via the browser or via a branded application for instance.
    c. Entertainment: Being entertained during “empty” moments: that moment when people are waiting for the bus, where they consume content, play games, watch videos… Good to keep in mind is that this time is not only spent on playing games, but that social media and news websites/apps are also used to entertain oneself and kill time.

  4. These core drivers can be used by brands and researchers

    Based on these 3 drivers, we came up with the ‘Mobile Mindset Model’; a structured approach of thinking about a mobile marketing plan. It starts with objectives, and explicitly includes research topics/information needs before kicking off. We then state that the development of any kind of mobile marketing plan should be guided by giving a relevant solution to one of the 3 core drivers, that fit within the context of brand and environment. And it includes a measurement feedback loop. The opportunity for researchers here is both researching upfront (satisfying primary information needs), during (co-creating the application via an MROC for instance) and afterwards (tracking app satisfaction and user experience to name one).

Wrapping it up, I think we are all working very hard on establishing mobile as a great new method of research… But let’s not forget that we can also help clients with understanding this new reality, by offering a structured approach towards researching and developing for and on mobile. After all, helping clients to understand is what we’re in this business for, right?
Agree? Disagree? Don’t hesitate to drop me a line at @eliasveris or via


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