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What Motorola’s Low-Cost Smartphone Means for MR in Emerging Markets

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By Ben Leet (as published on The GreenBook Blog)

Moto G, Courtesy of The New York Times

Fresh off the back of Nokia’s mobile business absorption into Microsoft, and with Blackberry continuing to seek a buyer for its ailing mobile arm, Motorola can smell blood as it launches its latest series of low end Smartphones aimed to drive a stake through the remains of those once glorious mobile hardware providers. Called Moto G, Motorola’s strategy is clear: Tap into the “500 million people who will buy a Smartphone for $200”, according to their CEO Dennis Woodside. And it makes sense; at the Moto G launch, Woodside went on to say that until now those customers only had the choice of a phone with last year’s tech or a second hand phone, so providing brand new technology to an audience hungry to keep up with Western trends could be a masterstroke. However, will Nokia or Blackberry take this lying down? They simply cannot afford to, and so the probability of the Smartphone war making its way to emerging markets just increased exponentially.

The relevance to the market research industry is that, for some time now, it’s been obvious that mobile research will become the methodology of choice for much of our work in emerging markets. Internet penetration is already higher via mobile versus desktop devices in countries like India, which means that mobile is already more representative than online in many instances. This is not new. I, and many others in the industry, have been preaching this for some time, but until now mobile surveys in those countries have been largely restricted to simple text-based surveys, or very light, simple and easy-to-load mobile web surveys. But that could all be about to change, and it will happen fast.

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Is Mobile The Key To Researching Emerging Markets?

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Where consumerism leads, brands follow, and where brands go, so marketing research goes. – Ben Leet

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Catch them if you can. Consumers are notoriously hard to read, which is why most research spend goes toward cracking the code. Up until now, the focus has been heavily weighted toward consumers in developed countries – after all, they are the first target of most manufacturers. Reaching the consumers in developing countries has been more of a challenge, and researchers have continued to rely heavily on face-to-face to get proper representation. Until today.

In an article for MRA’s Alert! Magazine, uSamp’s Ben Leet expounds on why mobile will be the tipping point. With the high penetration of smart phones in countries like India coupled with new technologies like geofencing, there is a new opportunity for researchers to bypass online methodologies and go straight to data collection via mobile. As Leet describes, “It’s almost a self-fulfilling prophecy; with increased consumerism comes an increase in smart phone penetration, and with it, the ability for researchers to reach new audiences.”

Leet goes on to highlight trends he believe will emerge in the next 12 to 18 months:

  • Mobile as a multiple methodology – app-based and mobile Web unite!
  • More research spend devoted to emerging countries – propelled by end clients pushing for more insight into this untapped resource

His article begs the question: Should researchers skip online sampling methodologies and go straight to smartphone in emerging countries?

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