The mobile video revolution

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There’s no doubt that mobile video is becoming increasingly prevalent in research. It delivers richer insights compared to open questions; helps to bridge the gap between businesses and their customers by bringing the consumer to life, in context; and allows us to create show-stopping outputs.

At Join the Dots, we’ve dabbled with video diaries for years, experimenting with the latest tech to host, run, and analyse video projects. We’ve run them across many geographical markets, sectors, and products, and while it’s more difficult to get people to engage with drier topics or activities, that just means we have to work harder as researchers to engage consumers with creative tasks, questioning, and moderation. Get people to take part for a brand or product they’re passionate about, and the results can really be quite special.

Through mobile video we’ve been taken into supermarkets with consumers and felt their frustrations at not being able to find a favourite toothpaste or moisturiser; we’ve observed online Christmas gift shopping; we’ve been in bathrooms (and even in the bath!) observing skincare routines; we’ve seen the contents of kitchen cupboards and cars; and we’ve even had dinner with people – all without the interviewer bias and high fieldwork costs of traditional methods.

For insight specialists, the outputs of video offer so much more than a typical open-ended response and only validate the idea that ‘in the moment’ research can give us so much more than post-rationalised responses.

Surveys still have a place, of course, but watching the agony of people trying to work out whether a 3-for-2 deal offers more of a saving than a competitor brand’s $2 off, or watching them navigate limited website information to figure out whether a new toothbrush has both Bluetooth and wireless charging functionality, is eye-opening. We’re right there with them, feeling their emotions and experiencing what they’re experiencing.

For the consumers, they can take part on their own terms, at their own pace. No awkward accompanied shops or having to fit groups into busy schedules. And, given the increasing use of Facetime, Skype, Snapchat, and Instagram, people will only become more comfortable sharing their experiences on camera.
Clarity about what’s expected of participants and getting the incentive right is key during recruitment, but once people are signed up, they’re typically very happy to share their thoughts, feedback, and ideas, and we’ve often had to extend the maximum video length. Once people are comfortable, they like to share a lot!

And what about the clients? They get closer to the small nudges that affect behaviour which aren’t typically recalled at a later date, including the influence of context and other people. They see first-hand (well, almost!) issues they weren’t necessarily aware of, like products not being located where customers expect, or competitor brands standing out more on the shelf. They see and hear the emotions at play during the customer journey, something even the best-designed survey can’t possibly compete with.

Mobile video is win-win all round. It’s more engaging for participants, who take part on their own terms and show us what’s important to them. It’s better for clients, as it helps them to understand the context, removes the issue of post-rationalisation, and gets them closer to System 1 decision-making and emotions. For researchers, it’s more fun to work on and analyse video, if sometimes more time-consuming as there’s so much footage to work with!

If you haven’t tried mobile video yet, I’d strongly advise you to try it on upcoming projects. You might just be surprised at the quality and depth of insights you uncover – and just how close you can get to your consumers.

By: Karen Schofield,
Managing Director, Join the Dots Singapore