In today’s article will discuss the use of mobile diaries as a market research method.
Mobile diaries are largely unknown; yet a recent research paper sheds light on the potential of this tool to complement existing quantitative market research techniques. More specifically the research focused on audience measurement in the broadcasting world.
The authors claim that :
“Studying consumers’ behaviors and decisions often requires individual-level information of four types. First, information is needed across the multiple locations where search and experience encounters occur. Second, information needs to cover multiple platforms—consumers search and communicate online and offline, through face-to-face interactions and telephone conversations, as well as via social media platforms. In addition, they might search one platform (e.g., the offline store), but purchase in a different platform (e.g., the online website). Third, one might want to monitor multiple behaviors performed by the same individual, such as purchasing and communicating with other people. Fourth, information is needed on the consumer’s subjective assessment, namely, her interpretation or perception of what she sees and experiences as well as her emotions and attitudes.”
What are mobile diaries ?
Diaries are a well-known instrument in qualitative market research (and in particular in ethnography) that is used to report experiences, feelings. They are used to report ongoing experience either on the consumer side or on the researcher side (see for instance this early example that led to massive data collection).
When used for analysing consumers’ habits, one can say that diary are like a “recurring survey, in which respondents answer the same questions repeatedly throughout the study period”.
Mobile diaries are therefore nothing more than a mobile application serving the purpose of surveying the respondent regularly and collecting longitudinal data throughout the research period.
The experiment : comparing mobile diaries results with standard audience measurement
The idea behind the paper is to compare the results you can obtain when comparing two very different research methods: the mobile diaries on the one hand (sample of 1702 people, representative of the US population) and the NPM (>22000 households) on the other hand. The NPM is a device installed in a representative sample of U.S. households and that allows to produce a hopefully representative of the TV audiences and market shares.
The authors matched the diary reports against the NPM records. Their results are quite surprizing. They found in particular that at the aggregate level, rating calculations according to the diaries are consistent with the NPM ratings.
This result, obtained in a well-know context and by comparing diaries with an industry standard (NPM), opens new opportunities for using mobile diaries in qualitative market research.
The authors went so far as to define the settings most suitable to use this research method.
Image : shutterstockTags: market research methods, market research USA