Mobile App Developments in Market Research

CiviCom MRS
Nov 06, 2018

Emerging trends in market research are primarily being driven by the ubiquity of mobile devices and the vast amount of time users spend on them. Adults now average slightly more than 3.5 hours per day on mobile devices, time that will soon exceed the average time spent watching television.1 Furthermore, apps dominate this time; users spend over 90% of their Internet time on smartphone apps and 77% of their Internet time on tablet apps.2    


Being able to engage in mobile market research is every market researcher’s dream come true. By meeting people where they’re already spending their time and connecting through devices most people already own, you have unprecedented options for conducting research.

What else makes this field so exciting?

Mobile market research with apps is advantageous because it is...

  • Unconstrained by traditional time and location barriers (such as coordinating participants internationally or accessing participants in remote areas).
  • Easier to recruit large sample sizes and busy professionals.
  • Less expensive to coordinate than in-person or web meetings.
  • Capable of working offline if respondents lack Internet access.
  • Able to gather more natural responses without the presence of a moderator.
  • Conveniently located within the sphere of participants’ daily routines.
  • More secure against hacking than web-based tools.

Market research apps improve how you engage in mobile research in three key ways:

  1. They make existing tools such as surveys more accessible for users.
  2. They help you incorporate newer trends such as gamification into your research.
  3. They can increase the speed of research thereby supporting key business trends such as innovation through rapid experimentation.


Surveys are a market research staple and remain so within mobile market research applications. Most surveys need to be adjusted, however, for shorter mobile attention spans and optimized for mobile screens.

On market research apps, users can respond to single, multiple choice, skip logic, sorting, or ranking questions or react to multimedia content. You can also choose to incorporate more advanced research tools such as time-stamping responses or enabling geo-fencing so that the app responds according to a participant’s location.

Activities with Multimedia Content

An app is a convenient way for respondents to gather photos or video and seamlessly upload it in response to a question or assigned activity. These multimedia uploads typically give you a richer understanding of what participants are experiencing and feeling than text-only reactions.

You can ensure that submissions are valid by using GEO locations to view where an activity took place. Additionally, many apps have offline capability for places with limited or no Internet connection (e.g., photographing a dining experience at a restaurant, recording a shopping experience at a retailer).

Audio Diaries

You can also use an app to have respondents routinely upload audio content, or audio diaries, as they record an experience over time. This gives you the benefits of multiple one-on-one interviews without the typical drawbacks of being time-intensive and the potential for a moderator’s presence muting respondents’ more frank reactions.

Audio diaries are ideal for exploring long-term patient journeys or for more sensitive research that demands authenticity. They are more unfiltered than survey responses and therefore ideal for uncovering the thought processes and the “whys” behind respondents’ decisions.


Market research apps are also a great way to leverage the benefits of gamification, the process of adding game-like elements to increase and enrich participation in everything from education to product design to meeting health goals. Rather than simply using extrinsic rewards to foster participation (e.g., financial incentives), gamification encourages participants to engage in mobile research more frequently and thoughtfully by triggering intrinsic rewards.

Within market research, gamification could take a variety of forms: points, badges, progress bars, or levels for task completion; encouraging competition with other research participants; activities that mimic single-player games; following a storyline or series of scenarios (e.g., mimicking purchase decisions with a limited amount of virtual money). While not effective for every type of study, adding game-like elements to market research apps can help combat common problems such as survey fatigue.

Rapid Experimentation

Some industries can change so rapidly that time-consuming market research quickly becomes irrelevant. New market research methods are a great way of speeding up the pace of your research and facilitating the important business trend of innovation through “fast failure” or rapid experimentation.

Rather than focusing on perfecting a product or service before release, companies are embracing iterative learning. This could mean conducting A/B testing or releasing a more basic prototype and then using rapid experimentation to continuously improve the offering. Engaging in mobile research is well-suited to this demand for fast, easy, inexpensive, and frequent testing and learning.


If you’re looking for a way to get a close look at your participants’ natural settings, routines and key decision moments, and eliminate expensive travels and in-home intrusions at the same time, Civicom’s Mobile Research solutions are ideal options for various applications. 

Explore multiple options for conducting mobile research - call us at (203) 413-2423 to schedule a demo right away or click the button below:



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