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The Rise of Smart Phones: Giving Power to the People and the Researcher

By the end of 2013, there will be more mobile devices than people.

Half of all mobile phone users will own smartphones.


It is not an understatement to say that smartphones have changed the way their users go about life. They have also influenced the way consumers shop.

The cell phone has become an important tool for shoppers with 58% of cell owners using their phone in a store to make purchasing decisions, a study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project found (January 31, 2013). Shoppers use their phones in the store to price compare (27% of cell owners), call someone for advice (46%) and look for reviews (28%).

Who uses cell phones most when shopping? Young adults (18-29 years old) are most likely to check online product reviews and prices. Women are more likely than men to call someone for advice. Smartphone users more often looked for online prices than regular cellphone users.

Of those looking at prices online (27% of cell users), 30% decided not to purchase the product, 46% purchased at the store, 12% purchased online, and 6% purchased the product at a different store (Pew Internet & American Life Project, 2013).

SmartPhones Allow Research In the Moment

The rise of smartphones is also changing the way that research is conducted. A smartphone's combination of video capability, email, text messaging and internet accessibility allow for research to take place almost anywhere.

Smartphones Enable Self-ethnography

Respondents can capture their thoughts, take pictures and even record video of what they are thinking or feeling in regards to your product or service right at the moment they have a thought or experience an emotion. This real-time access allows for research to take place in the moment instead of relying on respondents' memories.

Smartphones give respondents the ability to capture video of product usage experiences, shopping experiences and to visually describe how they are thinking and feeling. Respondents can then upload their videos to web portals or online bulletin board focus groups.

Smartphones Extend the Reach of Online Research

For years, the reach of the internet has enhanced the geographic diversity of our research. Smartphones allow that reach to be extended a bit further when respondents are away from home.

Methodologies like journaling or diaries can be captured online while in the moment (e.g., in the store, at the gym, in the office) creating more accurate data of experiences. Geo-tracking also can allow you to know where your respondents are when they are recording their responses.

Nobles Research Mobile Qualitative Research Services

For several years, we have gathered business-building insights for clients using online methodologies such as online bulletin board focus groups and Video Diary interviews. With the rise of smartphones, we now incorporate mobile devices into our service offerings. Using self-ethnography, journaling and geo-tracking, your next research project could capture dynamic "in the moment" learning about your target audience.

Whether your research project calls for more traditional research methodologies or the latest technology, we welcome the opportunity to provide you with a rich learning experience about your target audience.

Smith, Aaron. "In-store Mobile Commerce During the 2012 Holiday Shopping Season." Pew Internet and American Life Project. January 31, 2013. Accessed on February 28, 2013.
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