By Patrick Comer
Mobile is the second coming of online research. The first, of course, was the phone to web transition. But, this time, it’s even more disruptive as power moves away from the market research companies and into the hands, literally, of survey takers. And unlike the phone research era, where surveys and trackers could just be ‘ported’ over to online, the mobile revolution mandates more technological and research sophistication. ‘Porting’ from online to mobile just doesn’t work – ask any other content industry.
Many companies haven’t spent that much time preparing for mobile research. Well, you better, you have 12 – 18 months. It’s not a question of whether you can do mobile research but of whether you can afford not to…
1) « Not true, I have time. »
You have less time to react with the faster growth rate of mobile adoption relative to online. With 50% of panel respondents choosing mobile devices for surveys by 2015, you better move quickly. During CASRO Tech 2012, Ted Saunders and I projected that organic mobile penetration would have a 8.5% monthly growth rate and reach 12% by now; we guessed low. Hitting almost 13% in January, the continuation of that growth rate puts us at 50% by the summer of 2014. If we assume that the growth will slow down (6% monthly), then we still see 50% penetration in 2015. More importantly, the research firm has no control over the device choice of the respondent, making it harder to delay the transition.
Projection of U.S. mobile penetration into surveys
Your panelists are already choosing mobile devices, are you?
2) « 12.7% penetration doesn’t seem that bad. »
That’s the average. One in five Millennials is responding via a mobile device today. Their 50% mobile penetration will happen before you know it. Your surveys may already be skewing away from Millennials… as they ignore your PC based survey.
U.S. Mobile penetration by age bracket
3) « But my survey will work on the iPad. »
That’s correct, maybe, but tablet penetration is only 40% of the device selection (or 5% penetration) and is highly skewed to older respondents. Millennials can’t afford or don’t choose the tablet for survey taking. Also, many functions of a survey require a larger screen and a mouse.
U.S. Mobile Penetration split by device and age bracket
4) « I’ll just program the UI of my survey to fit on a mobile device. »
Really? Have you ever seen your 35 min survey with huge grids on your iPhone? It’s not pretty.
5) « Well, the sample companies will figure it out. »
Let’s hope so. Current mobile penetration of the top 7 global panel companies shows quite a disparity. We wonder what’s driving those differences: demographics, recruitment, or aggregation methods?
Conclusion: The clock is ticking, and you’ve been forewarned.