Emerging Trends in Mobile Research

It is fascinating how people “can’t live” without their mobile phones nowadays. Have you ever taken time to think of how dependent you have become with your mobile phone? How often do you reach for it? How long do you interact with it? How many things do you do with it? You know the answer, and it is very likely to be “frequently”, “as long as needed”, and “everything”.

That is exactly the motivation behind the utilization of mobile in market research. It is so convenient for both researchers and participants that it is only sensible to use it as a means of efficient data collection in many qualitative research projects. It is so in-demand that more and more methods are being designed and developed, resulting to various emerging trends in mobile research.


A few years ago, marketing research guru Ray Poynter, wrote a seminal post on the GreenBook Blog called A Big Picture of the Trends in Mobile Market Research where he outlined the key aspects of mobility that he believed market researchers should pay attention to. All of what he predicted has come true. Mobile phones have become ubiquitous and are the most widely owned device on the planet. One of the advantages of mobile research is that everyone has their phone on them at all times, so it is easier to get in contact with people, either through phone calls, email, or social media. Phones are now are internet enabled, and they are linked to other data such as social media.

And now, several years after this blog was posted, phones are not really just phones at all - they are actually small powerful computers that also have the ability to place and receive phone calls. Think of them not as phones, really, but as a PC or Mac in your pocket.


What are some of the latest trends in mobile market research?

The latest mobile market research trends use artificial intelligence.

The extent of potential AI applications in mobile research is wild - the opportunities are endless. Programmatic advertising, recommendation engine, and the ability to gather, process and automate findings are only a few of the promising possibilities AI can offer to market research in general.

Because mobile devices are inherently designed to automatically capture passive data, such as an individual’s current and previous location, time and day, plus device specifications such as its operating system, browser, and apps installed, savvy and suave market research groups that have mastered harnessing big data can track almost anyone’s full range of personal activities, well beyond just where they shop, what they spent, and how long they engaged with every website they visited. As a result privacy has become a much bigger issue in society. While consumers can be entirely freehanded in many of the restrictions on their data, with many they cannot. Even so, market researchers must get authorization from participants in order to collect data from them. The rise of protection of personally identifiable information (PII) has resulted in the GDPR (the General Data Protection Regulation) in the European Union, which protects the privacy rights on all parties on EU soil at the time of the collection of their data.

An expanding area of mobile market research has become the medical field.

The medical device and mobile health market is predicted to reach $8 billion. According to mHealth Intelligence, mobile communications technology like tablets, smartphones, and laptops can all lead to better follow-up care and healthcare diagnostics or treatments. And to quote them further, patients with chronic medical conditions can become more self-reliant with the adoption of mobile health solutions by living in their own home environment while remote monitoring technology tracks their health status and reports back to their physician. Mobile research devices now measure blood pressure, heart rate, glucose levels, and many more medical conditions through apps with and sensors designed for this purpose. One of the leading market research companies in using mobile devices to assess the perceptions of consumers in health care management is Market Vision Research.

Another popular mobile research trend at the moment is mobile ethnography.

The emergence of mobile ethnography saves researchers a very large amount of time and resources from travelling across states and countries. However, mobile market research is more than uploading an image. True mobile ethnography is the study of cultural phenomena from the society’s point of view. It is understanding patterns of habits, behavior, beliefs and values that a mere photo upload can never supply. Mobile makes it possible for researchers to virtually observe participants in the moment by using it as their eyes while participants take them through their daily activities. This applies to mobile medical research, too, as doctors and researchers can observe patients engaging in self-administering medicines, to see if the patient is doing it correctly.


Virtual reality (VR) is truly a compelling technological development relative to mobile phones.

Originally in gaming, now in market research as well. It is used in market research as a unique way to let participants experience multiple situations or products that do not exist in the real world yet as a new product testing tool without spending big bucks for the production of physical prototypes. For shopper insights, virtual reality allows participants to virtually walk in stores as if they’re physically there, and give feedback on their shopping experiences without encountering any in-store hassle. According to a quantitative survey, there’s only approximately 7% users of virtual reality applied in mobile research today, but more are expected to jump on the bandwagon as soon as more innovative applications of VR are developed in the future.

The bottom line is that the development of countless new market research tools are in progress, all for enhancing research findings and redefining mobile research success.