The promise of Mobile Qualitative Research is huge, and incredibly exciting: Real time, immediate, unobtrusive access to respondents. In a space that can feel fatigued by tried-and-true methodologies and even knowing and experienced respondents, mobile qualitative feels like a fresh and authentic way to engage people as people (not as consumers). At its best the mobile device, an appendage for many, enables people to conduct their own ethnographies with the researcher as virtual observer. The implications titillate: What is seen when we’re “not around” has got to be the most interesting and insightful, because it occurs when people are not being “watched.” The cost implications are doubly enticing: we can now engage with respondents domestically and internationally without the travel expense (and inconvenience)!
But don’t get distracted by the shiny object: Mobile is a tool. Like a focus group, an in-depth interview or a psychodrawing, which needs facilitation to make sure it’s used optimally. To deliver on its promise of engaging respondents and delivering quality, thoughtful output requires careful and considerate thinking and planning – pre, during and post field. Yes, we have access to real people but do we have involvement? Do we have ownership? A picture from a shop-along is only as good as the story attached, and the insights we, as researchers, draw from it.
In this presentation, we address both the promise and perils of mobile qualitative, and share some best practices and the latest findings from our mobile development labs.