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Qualitative research has changed with the times: rather than just the standard in-person focus groups or telephone in-depth interviews, we now have some fantastic tools at our disposal to help our field research collection process. Mobile ethnography tools are, of course, nothing new (in terms of the last decade as a qualifier for “new”), yet they are becoming increasingly intuitive, agile, and inexpensive to operate and set up; more and more qualitative researchers are using them as a replacement to or as a supplement to traditional field research.

At InterQ, we’re fans of mobile ethnography research, and we often use it as a supplement to traditional methods. People have become so comfortable with their cell phones, that asking them to snap a quick video or a photo as they’re going about their daily lives is no big deal. With mobile ethnography apps that we use people can use diary functions to record in real-time their impressions as they’re trying out a new product or shopping.

As always, with new technology comes a new set of terms. If you’re curious about mobile ethnographic methods, we’ve got a few indispensable terms to know.

Photo capture: A mobile ethnography tool that participants can use to record a product, impressions, or a moment. While using a mobile survey, participants will be given instructions to take a photo, which is uploaded through the mobile ethnography app.

Barcode scan: Participants can scan and process the UPC barcode data on an item using their smartphone cameras. The barcode data is then stored and coded, and can be analyzed in the future.

Diary study: Diary studies are where, over a set period of time, research respondents record specific behaviors. This can be done either directly on an app or online.

Alert trigger: If a respondent is taking a survey while out shopping, an alert trigger can be deployed. It triggers a survey when a respondent enters or leaves a geofenced area

Geofencing: Geofencing allows you to create a “virtual fence” around a geographic location. When someone enters the geofencing area, the location-enabled detection can trigger an action on the research respondent’s smartphone (such as prompting someone to make a diary entry or snap a picture). Geofencing locations can be as large as a city block or as small as a retail store.

Intercept Survey: With an intercept survey, a researcher can survey respondents in their natural environments with a short, structured survey. Particularly useful for mobile ethnography research.

Check-in: Almost identical to how people use “check-in” functions when using apps such as Foursquare or Facebook, mobile ethnographic apps use check-ins when participants need to be at a specific location. When the person checks-in, they can be sent a survey notification. This functionality is particularly handy for mystery shopping!

Mixed-mode study: Mixing different methods in qualitative research. May include in-person research, mobile ethnography, or quantitative surveys.

Out-of-Home Mobile Effectiveness: Out-of-home ads (ads in an airport, billboards, etc.) can be geofenced. Participants are notified through mobile surveys when they’re near a geofenced advertisement, at which point they can leave feedback using their mobile diary function.

Photo capture: A mobile ethnography tool that participants can use to record a product, impressions, or a moment. While using a mobile survey, participants will be given instructions to take a photo, which is uploaded through the mobile ethnography app.

Video Capture: Video capture is similar to photo capture: participants are given a trigger through a mobile survey to record a short video. They may be capturing a location, product, or their impression. Great tool for mobile ethnography research in a participant’s home or in the field!

Radius: When using geofencing or geolocation capabilities for mobile ethnographic research, users can define a radius that will trigger the survey.

Mobile ethnographic research is a super useful tool for field research

If you want to study how and what products people currently use in their homes, or, if your company has released a new product, combining mobile ethnographic research with traditional qualitative research methods is a superb technique to capture real-time feedback and impressions. At InterQ, we employ the latest technology for mobile ethnography research, so whether you want to see how your product is perceived in the field, or if you’re contemplating releasing a new product and want to know how consumers use current products, we can design a mobile ethnographic study for you that captures key moments and delivers game-changing insights.

Contact us for a proposal today for your next mobile ethnography project >

 

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