By: James Rogers
Despite the constant transformation in how society communicates, market research has remained grounded to its traditional methodologies. Research evolved over a decade ago from ‘face to face’ and ‘Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing’ to online surveys, but has since not changed any further. Why? Email based surveys are outdated in both their format and their respondent recruitment methods. This premise is an obvious conclusion to those in the research industry but despite this only a handful of innovators have stood out from the crowd to attempt change. The marketplace has become agile and fluid, but data collection techniques have stayed rigid and cumbersome. Similarly research and field partners have been pushed by clients to speed up their delivery times but the processes to handle all of this have never changed. From concept to design, to implementation and analysis, research clients still get their results in months rather than days and weeks.
Opposite to this research scenario, today’s consumers are no longer tied to laptop and desktops PCs, they are on-the-go, smartphone in hand, ready to provide real-time responses to the questions we want to ask. All we need to do is be where they are! But we are not! For too long, the industry has pretended to invest into mobile and app-based solutions but have really just shoe-horned desktop surveys onto mobile devices, and when you have the majority of the population spending more time on their phone than their PC, you can see this is a format that can no longer work.
What works in the West does not always work in the East
We just looked at how industries and consumers move at different paces, but the same can happen between countries and even continents. It is widely perceived that because the West had the head start, we should continue with the same blue-print elsewhere. But while the West may have had the advantage of the “first move”, it is always those who come after that build better, faster and more efficient solutions. Like with emerging markets adopting fibre optic internet connections from the get-go without the drawbacks of updating old networks, mobile spread has gone the same way, with Asia now being fully dominated by smartphones and tablets as they have become not only affordable, but the favourite and best device to reach and connect audiences. During 2015, the explosion of affordable smart phones in countries such as Thailand saw connections surpass most of their Western counterparts. Ownership percentages of 100%+ are now commonplace and apps, not e-mail, are marking the way forward.
But there are Western companies that have acted on these market differences, understanding that they need to cater to these needs and leave tradition behind. In a recent interview, CEO of Microsoft Satya Nadella explained how Windows 10 is breaking new ground in being the first operating system to be cross-platform compatible, meaning that the same OS works on tablets, phones and PCs, and explained how this is a huge step for countries where mobile devices are preferred over desktop, as users can simply connect their phones to a screen and a keyboard and transform it into a fully-fledged personal computer. Surely this is the next logical step and one that we should be adopting in our approach to data collection? We shouldn’t be trying to reverse engineer surveys and force these on respondents, but understand that they are already there and we should be the ones adapting.
How are we making a difference?
At Cint we have the luxury of being agnostic! Agnostic to device type, client vertical, and panel recruitment sources, and we provide that flexibility directly to our clients who need information now, not next month. We focus on creating software that enables those who want access for insight purposes period.
With the launch of OpinionAPP we are starting to fundamentally change how our sample buyers interact with our sellers and giving panelists one point of access for all of their surveys without the need to wait for an email invite. The benefits of this launch will be multiple; on one side cross-platform behavioural data tracking will provide advertisers and brand owners with deeper insight than ever before, while on the other side we hope for OpinionAPP to push mobile surveys to a more visible place in the industry, incentivizing survey tool companies to comply with better and more compatible technology. Only when the research industry will have caught-up we will have a true new era of insights.