Magazine article Marketing

Greater Insight: Essays - Mobile: The Fast Track to Individual Truth

Magazine article Marketing

Greater Insight: Essays - Mobile: The Fast Track to Individual Truth

Article excerpt

The ubiquity of mobile use, and the proliferation of smartphones in particular, is driving a transformation in market research methodologies, helping brands to gain deeper, more accurate customer insight than ever.

Mobile was always going to be a game-changer. As it has swept to almost universal ownership among the population, with growing power in every handset, not only has it transformed communication, it is also transforming market research.

The TNS Mobile Life study shows that two-thirds of the UK population already carry a smartphone, and ownership is 60% or more in China, North America and the developed countries in Asia. Tablet ownership, meanwhile, is rising fast, and has already reached nearly a quarter of consumers in developed markets.

Although smartphones are mainly associated with the young - 85% of 22- to 30-year-olds in the UK have one - ownership spans the generations, including a majority of those in their 40s.

It is not just penetration that is remarkable. The mobile is part of life: a majority of the 38,000 people sampled worldwide for Mobile Life agreed with the statement that their mobile is 'an extension of me - I feel lost without it'.

Mobiles mean physical and emotional connection. As such, they are a game-changer for market research, giving us a fast track to individual truth.

Modern market research needs to go beyond the search for the average Averages make for poor brand profiles. Brands need more precise information if they are to fully understand how and when individuals make all those millions of purchase decisions, and market researchers need to evolve their own methodologies to enable them to do that.

Mobile has proved to be a new and effective tool in this search for individual truth. Its benefits can be summed up as the three Rs: relevance, reach and reality.


Asking questions via mobile fits respondents' lives and lifestyles. The vital role that mobile is playing means that it is always there, always on. Smartphones and tablets are used from minute to minute to interact with the world.


Using mobile gives us the ability to collect data in locations and situations where a researcher would be out of place or risk affecting the research. It reaches people wherever they happen to be.


The respondent is reacting to the question in the instant, with much less time to work out why they think they made that decision, rather than why they really did.

In one recent example, TNS worked with Molson Coors. A sample of 150 lager-drinkers completed an online questionnaire about what influences them when ordering a drink at a bar - an area that conventional surveys would find hard to reach effectively or cost-effectively. …

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