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Paul Hudson
Paul Hudson CEO of Intersperience
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Where we're at: our new mobile app

At our ‘Open Ideas’ event earlier this year we highlighted the increasing importance of physical location in a world that many assume is increasingly virtual. Further, 51.3% of the UK population now own a smartphone and use their phone to perform a huge variety of tasks in a wide variety of locations and 73% of these people use mobile internet at least once a day1.

In research terms, being able to determine participant’s location is highly valuable, as it helps us to understand the situation and context in which customers act.  Consumer research via smartphone also affords the opportunity to obtain feedback from participants at the moment of decision, point of sale, or whilst they are in a particular venue or location.

App screenshots
To this end, we spent spring 2012 developing our bespoke Android app which integrates with our FlexMR online research platform to enable us to pin-point respondents’ diary entries and allows them to update us on what they’ve seen and what they’ve been doing and where they’ve been doing it.

Not only are there benefits for us as researchers, but it also has benefits for participants, in that mobile is increasingly a preferred way to be online - it is quick, to hand, always on and is used to fill time and as an entertaining diversion whilst travelling.

The app has four key elements: location check in, status update, photo upload and a diary task function.  Participants can check into specific locations and leave a comment; quickly tell us what’s on their mind, share what they’ve seen and what they’re doing and complete more in-depth tasks and activities which we set them.

The status update, photo upload and diary tasks are tagged with GPS location automatically to enable us to pinpoint participants’ locations with accuracy.  However, the ‘check in’ function allows respondents to select a nearby location to check in to, much as one can with services such as FourSquare and Facebook.  This has proved fun and engaging for participants, and also alleviates their potential security concerns.

Linking location to diary tasks also means that we can ask participants to complete reviews and mystery shopping exercises in particular locations, for example a mystery shopping exercise in a supermarket, a customer service review in a bank or an in-store product review in a competitor store. We can also set tasks to be completed at a certain place and time, for example asking customer to trial a new app whilst out and about.  Tasks combine quick to answer single and multiple choice questions, scale questions and verbatim comments.  Participants can even upload photos to exemplify their responses.

We’ve trialled the app with our TrendSpot community during the most interactive, socially connected Olympics ever to enable them to let us know what they’ve seen, where they’ve watched it and what else they were doing at the time.  Our 30 participants provided over 300 mobile updates in total in the week of the study, checking in from Eastbourne to Edinburgh.  We’ve also had very positive feedback (as well as constructive comments on what to improve in the next release of the app) from our participants.

1Intersperience ‘Internet on the Move’ study, 2012

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