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Paul Hudson
Paul Hudson CEO of Intersperience
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Location, Location, Location!

As Facebook adds the co-founders of Gowalla to its development team, we are reminded of the importance of location in shaping the future of mobile services. Both the BBC and CNN have reported that Ďlocation servicesí is a key driver behind the move for Gowalla:

"Facebook Places seems to work fairly well but they want to make a big play in this area," said Lee Bryant, the European managing director of Dachis Group, a social media consultancy.

The point is that location matters. As researchers, we know this. We know that location is a key influencer in how we behave, how we experience a brand or how we choose a product. In the future, we have to ensure that we use the mobile as a way to better understand the influence of location.

I would argue that location is a real game changer in market research. Location should be at the top of our minds, our development agendas, conference topics and the buzz word for 2012.

Mobile research shouldnít just be about creating apps that replicate traditional research methods, such as surveys. This wonít harness the unique element that mobile brings to the party. Mobile is unique amongst devices because it is emotionally so important to us all Ė itís the device they are most emotionally attached to; the one that goes everywhere with them. It is their problem-solver, their connection to friends and a companion for when they are bored on a train.

What does this mean for research? In September 2010, Research Live published an interesting article that summarised some of the innovations being talked about in the industry. Itís a good read. It isnít exhaustive but touches on some of the key ways of using the unique characteristics of mobile to do something different; to add understanding about location into our data sets and more action to our recommendations. But itís worrying that just as the big titans of social networking and retailing begin to really focus on how they will harness SoLoMo (the intersection of Social, Location and Mobile) the market research industry is still mainly focussed with other aspects Ė gamification, social media monitoring to name but two. If thereís one thing Iíd ask for in 2012 its more emphasis on how we can use the unique intersection of Location, Mobile and maybe Social networking to take MR to the next level.

Location is the new real-estate Ė itís what Facebook knows and itís what we need to address as an industry.

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