Mobile phones, once enjoyed only by the more affluent consumers, are now ubiquitous across socioeconomic classes, and not just for voice and texting. For more than two billion people worldwide, it is the channel through which they access the Internet. In contrast, only about 600 million people use a desktop or laptop to get online. The gap between mobiles and computers will only widen as the number of smartphone users climbs to an estimated four billion – 80 percent of the world’s adult population – by 2020.
The prdontdontevalence of mobile devices in emerging economies has important implications for both multinational companies and market research. Despite lower incomes overall, many consumers in the BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India, and China), the MINT nations (Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Turkey), and South Africa are steadily crossing the threshold into the lower middle class. Collectively they spent 6.9 trillion USD in 2015, and their spending power is expected to nearly triple by 2025. This presents a significant growth opportunity for many multinational companies, and mobile phones can be extremely effective vehicles for conducting the market research needed to understand these consumers.
Challenges for Mobile Research in Emerging Markets
Unlike in most of the developed world, slower, 2G feature phones with small screens are still quite common. In order to recruit representative samples, any mobile web survey must render just as well on basic feature phones as on smartphones and tablets. To minimise respondent fatigue and attrition, the optimal survey length is 10 minutes or less. So a principal challenge for researchers lies in employing advanced methodologies while also adhering to the constraints of low-tech phones.
Case Study: Predicting Choice in Three Emerging Markets with Mobile Surveys
SKIM conducted a mobile web survey in Brazil, Indonesia, and South Africa to understand lower income consumer preferences in the competitive painkiller category. To ensure a representative sample in the populations targeted, the survey had to accommodate low-tech feature phones.
Sample: Over the course of two days a total of 1,260 lower income respondents completed the survey using either a feature phone or smartphone. Based on previous research into global demographics and web access, the sample was representative for gender and age.
Design: To determine the product attributes that drive purchasing choices, SKIM employed a conjoint design that required participants to make a series of simple tradeoffs. Due to technical limitations, it is often assumed that more advanced research methodologies cannot be deployed on feature phones. However, if one strips the survey of all the unnecessary genericpropeciabuyonline.com/avodart.html components to focus on the essentials, it is possible to deploy advanced conjoint techniques on feature phones. In this study, the five attributes studied were brand, number of units per package, dosage, and price, each with three levels; and type, with two levels (capsule or tablet). Using 162 possible combinations, researchers created concepts that isolated the various features and levels. Respondents saw two or three concepts per screen and were instructed to select only one preferred concept before moving on to the next screen. Each respondent completed seven concept-choice tasks.
Survey Length: In addition to the choice tasks, respondents answered three screening questions, two demographic questions, and one income question, for a total of just 13 taps on their phone’s screen. The average time for completion was eight minutes.
Results: For all three study countries, SKIM researchers were able to predict buying behavior with statistical rigor based on only seven tradeoff choices and with accuracy comparable to that of online studies not engineered to accommodate low-tech feature phones. In fact, when compared with market data, the predicted choices were twice as likely to match actual buying behavior than responses to the question, “What brand do you prefer?” In addition to predicting preferences by country, SKIM was able to develop more detailed profiles of subgroups within the samples for each country using latent class analytics.
Cost and reliability are advantages of mobile research in emerging markets
Researchers might assume that the lower end technology still common in emerging nations precludes the ability to conduct valid, robust mobile research. However, by paring down web surveys to the essentials so that they render well on even basic feature phones, surveys can reach and be easily completed by participants in these new and important markets.
SKIM collected complete, analyzable data in just two days. Compare this with the logistics, time and expense of conducting traditional face-to-face interviews! The key is to tailor mobile surveys for low-tech phones and keep length to no more than 10 minutes. For longer surveys, breaking them into phases and offering an incentive for respondents to complete each phase is recommended.
Multination interest in the market potential of emerging nations is growing, and the need to gain quick insights is clear. Mobile phones, including low-tech feature phones, are great tools for breaking through logistic and socioeconomic barriers for better access to and understanding of lower income consumers worldwide.