How Mobile Apps are Clearing the Path to Better Data Collection

Amie Fletcher

Amie Fletcher, Research Solutions Manager, at Lumi.

Yesterday, I walked 3,844 steps. How do I know this? I didn’t count my steps and I didn’t hire someone to follow and count my every move. I know I took 3,844 steps because an app on my smartphone tracks the number of steps I take without me having to do anything.

Market research apps powered by advances in technology are creating a whole new world of data that market researchers should be very excited about. It is now easier to not only get more data from participants, but also data that is more accurate.

Clearing the path to better data

For a person to engage in any activity, three things have to align:

  1. They know what to do
  2. They have the motivation to do it
  3. They know how to do it

When seeking to collect data from participants, researchers have always faced obstacles, whether limitations of time, participant memory, or another barrier. Yet, many of the obstacles researchers have faced are now disappearing thanks to mobile apps. It’s now easier for participants to know what to do, how to do it, and with less willpower required.

Collect more data with less effort

I was able to track the number of steps I took without having to do anything except open the app. As smartphones become more sophisticated, it will become easier for researchers to collect more and more passive data that would have previously been very difficult, if not impossible, to collect.

Even when the collection process isn’t passive, less effort is now required of participants to submit daily activities, feedback and opinions. Instead of filling out and mailing a form or entering information online at the end of the day or week, participants can open an app and instantly submit feedback. The less willpower that’s required to submit data will only increase engagement rates for research, but also increases recorded occasions and increases accuracy due to a reduction in memory bias.


We live in an age of distraction. While technology makes it easier to accomplish many tasks, it’s also easier to get distracted with a constant stream of information. Market research apps cut through the clutter with push notification reminders.

Instead of relying on a participant to remember when to record their thoughts and opinions, a gentle reminder triggered by time, behaviour or location can be sent to their device. Push notifications not only lead to higher engagement rates, but also narrow the gap between activity and data submission, thus also further reducing respondent memory bias.

Capturing rich media

The goal of all market research is to understand the participant and the narrative that guides their decisions. The ability for participants to use their smartphones to easily capture and share photos and videos helps researchers unobtrusively see what the participant sees. Combined with location-based push notifications, collecting contextual media has never been easier.

Better data is ahead

Smartphones have enabled new and powerful ways to collect data and this is only the beginning. Mobile is driving change in data collection and opening up new opportunities for better and more accurate data. With continually advancing technology like ibeacons, smartwatches and wearables, the future is bringing a mountain of data ready to be mined for insights.


Written by
Amie Fletcher
Research Solutions Manager

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