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How Text-Messaging Mobile Qualitative Research Works

It seems like everyone has a mobile phone these days. Well, not everyone, just 5 billion people (or 70 percent of the world population) have them. According to Nielsen, more than 265 million Americans have mobile phones, and 98 percent of those phones are equipped with text messaging technology. With the proliferation of mobile devices and text messaging, researchers are discovering a new way to collect real-time data and engage participants—through mobile qualitative research. It’s an excellent way to capture longitudinal/diary-type responses or augment online qualitative research you’re already doing.

Here’s how the methodology works using QualAnywhere, our mobile qualitative research platform.:

Recruitment: Nothing unique here—participants are recruited just like in other types of qualitative studies.

Format: Programmed ahead of time, questions can be assignment-based, open-ended or survey.

Data Gathering: Over a period of one day to several weeks, participants receive questions and assignments from the moderator at specified times via text message. They respond by simply sending a reply message. Then, all responses are automatically gathered each day and sorted either by question, by participant or both in an easy-to-read transcript.

Response Time: Very fast. Because mobile phones are with people throughout their day, participants typically answer within 15 minutes of receipt.

Participant Rate: Extremely high due to the ease of use.

Engagement: Since text messaging reaches participants anytime and anywhere, you can contact them at common purchase and consumption times to get “in the moment” responses. Plus, anonymity makes participants feel more free and open with how they share information.

The types of activities for which text messaging is especially well suited include research situations such as:

  • During common meals/snacking times, to discover why they’re making certain food choices.
  • During primetime TV watching to discuss television show selection.
  • During the weekend, to capture shopping habits as people run errands.
  • During an event to get real-time feedback on the experience.

Learn more about QualAnywhere, our mobile qualitative research platform.