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Look around restaurants and bus stops, and you'll see just how much mobile has penetrated people's daily lives. When it comes to research, mobile isn't the future, it's now - which is why Vision Critical is doing more than ever to help companies tap the power of mobile as a source of consumer insight.

A mobile strategy in research requires more than just delivering mobile-responsive surveys. In fact, mobile qualitative studies - for instance, through discussion forums or by asking open-ended questions - can uncover new insights and enhance people's experience in your insight community. Here are 4 ways qualitative research on mobile can do that:

  1. Get people's input as it happens.

In the past, people had to rely on recall to be able to talk about their in-store experience. Another option was for a researcher to watch people as they shopped. But now with mobile, people can talk to you as they do the behavior that you are trying to observe. From concerts to sports events to a routine visit to a store, people can now share photos or answer questions as they're in the middle of the action

The good news for researchers is that people love to share their in-the-moment experience. Twitter's popularity is very much driven by people's need to share what they are doing at this very moment. Having people share their in-the-moment feedback allows people to express themselves and to feel more connected to your community.

  1. Allow people to participate when it's convenient for them.

One of the consequences of people having smartphones is that their daily lives are more entwined with their phones. In some cases, their daily lives are centered around their phones. People now expect to be able to participate at their own pace and at a time of the day that works best for them. If they have a few minutes to spare while lining up for coffee and want to answer questions in that moment, then they should be able to.

Having a mobile-friendly discussion forum creates a convenient and personal way for people to partake in your research. The end result is that people are more likely to participate frequently and provide their thoughts in your community.

  1. Provide a platform where people can share.

People love to tell family, friends and colleagues what they're up to. This is one of the reasons why social networks have become so popular. From news to photos to videos, people can't resist sharing a part of their day with others. And with smartphones ready at hand, sharing has never been easier.

The implication for mobile qualitative research is huge. Not only can people share their thoughts with you - researchers can now do deeper mobile ethnography and ask for photos and other multi-media to visually capture people's behavior.

People's communication styles are very different, and not everyone can communicate their thoughts very well using words. By letting people share photos from their phones, you're providing another way for community members to engage with your brand.

  1. Attract younger people into the discussion.

A notoriously difficult group to reach in research, the 18-to-35 male demographic has one of the highest mobile adoption rates. Brands who would like to reach this group will have a better shot at having them participate if they provide a mobile-friendly platform. If it's important for your community to hear from a younger demographic, allowing them to use their smartphones will more likely encourage them to participate in your community.

Today, 56% of Americans already own a smartphone. As they become more popular and more affordable, smartphones are only going to become more ubiquitous with consumers. Mobile represents one of the biggest opportunities for brands to better understand their customers - and to enhance their relationship with their community members.

Want to know more about how you can use mobile to get to know your customers? Learn more how Vision Critical can help.

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