mobile representative insights

Why mobile is the best path to representative insights

For a long time mobile surveys have been the inferior sidekick to web surveys. In recent years, the most forward thinking online surveys have been designed for web and then “optimised” for mobile. There’s still some online surveys that are not even optimised for mobile.

The excuse in the past was that smartphones were not mainstream enough to reach a representative online audience. This is simply not true anymore. We now need to lead with mobile and retro fit the survey for the web. If the survey doesn’t work on mobile, the research project will miss out on key demographic groups.

The chart below shows how smartphone ownership has surpassed laptop ownership in recent years.

Mobile Representative Insights

Furthermore, there is only a small difference in smartphone and laptop ownership among over 55 year olds. Smartphone ownership is also much more representative of the online population in terms of social grade than laptop owners. C2 and DE social grades are less likely to own a laptop that a smartphone

In fact, fixed line internet enabled devices like laptops and desktops are becoming much less important for C1, C2 and DE online adults.

With smartphones being the most important device for accessing the internet, it is time that researchers made mobile research their primary channel for data collection. Research buyers have made huge strides in this direction.

But this data does not show the full picture. Even though 66% of research buyers “use” mobile surveys, they might not use them across all of the relevant projects. The data is hard to come by but speaking with friends in the industry, I have heard that the proportion of all online surveys completed on mobile, is still small.

New horizons with mobile research

Mobilising data collection also has huge benefits in passive data collection too. Why ask a question about what smartphone they have when you could just pull that information from the device?. Mobilising data collection can provide a much more integrated approach to customer insight and reduce the length of surveys. Survey questions should just be used to fill the gaps of information you cannot gather passively.

The opportunities are huge in mobile insights, especially in the integration of big data and survey data.


I only have UK data here, but there will be some good international data published at the end of the year. I’ll publish another post with a more international view in January 2017.

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