The market research world is abuzz with the topic of mobile surveys. The advent of smartphones has put the Internet into the pockets of millions more South Africans. Prior to smartphones most South Africans could only be interviewed face-to-face for the purposes of market research. Whilst it is still true that most South Africans do not have access to the Internet, it is also true that just about every single economically active South African now has access to the Internet and is therefore available for inclusion in online surveys on their smartphones.

If you’re interested in running a mobile survey then you should consider some of the advantages and disadvantages before diving in.

Some advantages

  • Relative to other online platforms, smartphones offer the opportunity to reach potential respondents who are not tuned in to email. (Millennials are an excellent example of a segment that is not tuned in to email.)
  • Relative to other online platforms, surveys completed on a smartphone can be done more easily “on the hoof”. This gives the respondent greater flexibility to complete a survey at a point and place in time that suits them best. (Arguably the same applies to tablets and laptops.)

Some disadvantages

  • For a survey administrator it’s not easy to ensure that the survey software is compatible with each of the different brands of smartphone. This can result in surveys being skewed towards owners of certain brands of handset.
  • Smartphones are not a good platform for lengthy questionnaires. Respondents can easily be distracted in the middle of the survey by notifications from the multiple apps that most smartphone owners have on their phones. This results in a large proportion of respondents not completing the survey.
  • For many smartphone owners the cost of data or the lack of availability of free Wi-Fi puts them off even considering completing questionnaires on their smartphones.