Phone Call Declared Dead, Online Qualitative Research Comes Calling

On TechCrunch this week, Alexia Tsotsis declares the phone call dead—well, almost dead: “Less obsolete but more annoying than a handwritten letter, the phone call is fading as a mode of communication even if the nostalgic will be singing its praises for awhile,” he says.

If you’re used to doing telephone surveys or interviews, you’ve probably noticed that, overall, the people you call are less willing to participate. Maybe even a little angry when they answer? As Alexia points out, “One thing a phone call does signify is EMERGENCY,” so when it rings, it can be startling.

Alexia cites Nielsen data showing the decline of voice usage by age in the last year. Voice usage declined across all age groups except two—55-–64 year-olds and 65 and up—from the second quarter of 2009 through the second quarter of 2010.

Taking the phone call’s place in all other age groups, of course, is text-based communication—particularly texting (SMS), but also email, Twitter and Facebook.

So what does this mean for researchers like you? Well, it’s good news, because with the help of online research software, you can easily and cost-effectively reach participants wherever they want to be reached—whether that’s on their mobile phone or their computer.

Want to reach teens? Your best bet is mobile qualitative research. Regular readers of QualBlog will recall another set of Nielsen data on teen texting habits that we pointed out a few weeks ago—that today’s U.S. teens age 13-17 send or receive an average of 3,339 text messages per month.

Other online qualitative research tools include a bulletin board focus group, a webcam focus group and online journaling. Learn more about each of these online qualitative research tools at

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