Monday, 12 September 2016

It’s not all about smartphones

It’s not all about smartphones

Don’t ignore the feature phone when it comes to mobile surveys

It’s really easy to get drawn into the latest product advertising from phone providers – who wouldn’t be seduced by the latest ‘edge’ technology, 4G, bigger screens and all the latest features? Actually, me, and I’m not alone – some people resist because they still love their old style feature phones (I love the long battery life and the fact I can escape from email alerts) and many more, simply can’t afford a smartphone or aren’t able to use one if even they could afford it. In fact, some consumers are dumbing down phone purchases in Japan, as they equate “smart” with large, expensive, insecure and complex.

Feature phones have many benefits – you can call, text, take photo and video, you have basic internet access – plus they’re small enough to fit in your pocket and don’t need charging daily! So for those who simply want a cheap device that lets you phone and send SMS or MMS messages, the feature phone has it all! They’re also proving popular with the older generation, who like the larger buttons and the comfort that they won’t get any large bills for unexpected data use!

Of course feature phones won’t work for those who have to be fully immersed in the heady whirl of social media, such as Twitter, Instagram or playing Pokemon Go! –  but we’re not all desperate to be connected 24/7 – and in many parts of the world, it’s not an option anyway.

Feature phones still outnumber smartphones

While global smartphone sales outstripped feature phone sales, in Q1 2015, we should not lose sight of the fact that there is still a large existing market for the humble feature phone and around 400 million of the poorest people in the world bought a feature phone in 2015. What’s more, the size of the feature phone market is expected to remain dominant until about 2018, when an almost 50:50 split between smartphone and feature phone users is predicted.

So what does this mean when it comes to research?

Here are some handy tips that are worth bearing in mind when you’re creating a survey that’ll be taken on a mobile phone.

  1. If your survey only uses an app it won’t be accessible to feature phone users – So why not offer more than one mobile channel and include the option to send it via SMS as well as app?
  2. If you choose SMS as your data collection channel, your survey will reach all mobile phones, whether they are smartphones or a feature phones – Just keep your questions short and simple (but your survey logic can still be complex).
  3. If your mobile web survey needs responses across the world, internet coverage maybe poor in certain markets or in rural locations– offer the option to take the survey via SMS as well as online, as SMS coverage is often better than the internet.
  4. Let your respondents use their phone to share photo feedback – As users can send photos from feature phones as well as from smartphones, why not include photo answers to collect richer insights from everyone.
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