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Exciting Times for Mobile Market Research in Asia

MR on TrialOver 170+ market research leaders gathered in Singapore at the 2nd annual MRMW Asia conference held on March 4-7 to discuss the latest developments in mobile market research. From an overview of key investment areas to case studies demonstrating cutting edge projects from international brands, participants truly were given a full overview about the state of the industry.

Not short on innovations itself, the conference boasted a pre-conference “client challenge” where leading brands worked together with agencies to develop a custom mobile research solution on the spot. “It was unique, very impressive and gave me a rejuvenated hope that market research actually has a future”, says Efrain Ribeiro, COO of Lightspeed Research about this unique workshop concept that involved Ericsson, NTUC Fairprice and Medtronic as clients.

Some of the leading mobile phone companies have recognized their opportunity in mobile market research and Singtel, represented by Melissa Gil and Amy Shi-Nash is certainly pushing the boundaries in using big data for market research. “We don’t separate big data and market research” says Gil, “but we drive collaboration between the two”.

Amy Shi-Nash demonstrated the level of sophistication mobile operators have achieved in tracking and combining user data, identifying behavioural patterns and segmenting customers. Using herself as sample, Amy tracked herself over an entire month, clearly marking out her daily work routine, travel patterns abroad (marked by absence from the operator’s network after having arrived at the airport) and also evening or weekend activities such as shopping and dining. The obvious privacy question looms but Amy impressively demonstrated what is technically possible.

Today’s availability of huge amounts of data puts researchers before challenges not anticipated only a few years ago. Mardien Drew and her team at Kantar specialize in the development of tools that extend digital capabilities for market researchers. Drew introduced the concept of “recognology” helping researchers to unify different sets of mobile data, mainly focusing on photos and videos. Having accidentally introduced the term at MRMW Asia last year (by combining recognition and technology) she has now developed a concept around this to enable researchers to more easily deal with literally thousands of images and other data. The concept is based around automating and constantly refining a coding system through a mix of automated analysis, crowd sourcing and a final quality control by the in-house research team. Exciting work in process for sure!

After two days of presentations and case studies, Esomar President Dan Foreman and his colleagues from Lumi took market research to court. A series of witnesses, including representatives from Unilever, TNS, McKinsey and others, described their challenges and frustrations with current market research while calling for a quicker adoption of mobile market research.

Christophe Ovaere from Zappistore compared MR to an old, boring and uninspiring lover and recommended “trying some new methods and maybe even use some new technologies to spice things up a little.” On a more serious note, Ian St-Maurice from McKinsey underlined how he advises clients on multi-billion investments and is in need of accurate, representative data form MR. He referred to a study that showed how mobile research helped increase accuracy dramatically for studies done in China.

In conclusion, there was wide spread agreement at MRMW Asia 2014 that market research needs to innovate and adjust faster and that mobile market research will be a key stepping stone for the industry. When done right, the future of market research will be a technology revolution and consultancy evolution. To be continued in 2015…!

Hear what delegates say about the MRMW Asia conference. Don’t miss the MRMW North America conference on May 27-30 in Chicago. We look forward meeting you there!

About The Author

Jens Cornelissen

Jens Cornelissen has been writing for over two decades – initially for general newspapers in his home country Germany. After receiving an MA degree in Communications, he joined a new media start-up in Amsterdam as consultant on new media technologies and country editor for two daily newsletters. In his current day job, Jens runs the global conference division for Merlien’s dedicated marketing research events. Jens is a trained journalist with a BA in Journalism from Westminster University in London and has authored several media industry reports and articles on mobile and media technology.

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