Using Mobile Ethnography to understand Gen Z & Millennials

We recently completed a project with our friends at Atticus Research and the following post is based on their conclusions about using Mobile Ethnography apps to connect with Gen Z (the original post appeared in their Blog here).

Helping Qualitative Researchers connect with the Snapchat Generation

Qualitative researchers spend their working lives capturing and using consumer insights to help our clients and their businesses put their customers at the heart of their decision-making.

Clients are demanding more innovative approaches and as a result, qualitative researchers have to be creative and innovative in how they collect this insight, looking for new ways of ‘living with’ people to ensure that they understand the context in which the respondents experience choice and decision-making.

Atticus assumed a mobile ethnography app like Indeemo would help with this and enable them to capture far more ‘in the moment’ data, but they had never found a platform that worked for them or their respondents. The mobile ethnography platforms they tried in the past were not sufficiently user friendly, and had a lot of issues with respondents failing to complete.

So when we contacted Atticus last year, they were keen to collaborate with us and try out Indeemo.

In their words: “what we got in return was a new app that is easy, familiar and as engaging as the best social networking apps”.

Atticus do a lot of research with people of all ages and backgrounds, but where they sometimes struggled was engaging with younger people – or Millennials – those born around the turn of the century.

In their experience, Millennials can find traditional research methods more intimidating, or be less inclined to really open up and share their views. And being digital natives, and often experiencing life, brands and services in a different way from previous generations, Matt and James felt young people would be the perfect audience to test a mobile ethnography app and see if it delivered what they needed.

Using social media, Atticus recruited a random selection of 18-20 years olds from across the UK, and set the scene by giving them a little background about the project. Rather than giving too much away, they simply directed the respondents to the Indeemo app so they could see for themselves how interactive and easy it was to use.

In our experience, Atticus set a new standard in terms of moderation and engagement with their respondents. James and Matt were active and positive in their moderation and leveraging the push notification probes of Indeemo, they actively moderated and encouraged the respondents and as a result, the participants let Atticus into their lives using the mobile ethnography app, sharing their thoughts and feelings, hopes and aspirations, fears and concerns: how they perceive their world and their future.

“It was interesting seeing the change over the period of the research – they quickly grew in confidence and became more relaxed and confessional”.

They shared photos, text comments, and selfie video vox pops, that really blew us away – we doubt we would have gained the same rich insight had we used a face-to-face approach.
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Indeemo enabled Atticus to gather a huge amount of data – over 200 uploads – and there some very consistent themes emerged:

  • “Our millennials appear naturally reflective and considered”.

  • “Their aims and ambitions are conventional”.

  • “Experiences matter more than things”.

Life is all about the memories you create. You can own possessions but when all is said and done, you’ll have little to show for it. Where as the memories you share with friends and family can impact upon your lives and the lives of others forever.
  • “A happy life is not a perfect life”.

  • “Family are for life, not just for Christmas”.

  • “The pressure is on and this lifestage feels ‘make or break’”.

  • “A degree is no guarantee. For some, University is seen as a gamble”.

  • “Herd instinct is a powerful driver when it comes to the next step”.

I think it’s so much harder to live now than my parents generation. It’s hard to find a job, combined with people becoming over qualified; even if someone goes to university now, they aren’t guaranteed a job. Matching yourself to others is hard. Employers will look and ask if you have a Masters or PHD now, so a normal degree might not stand for anything, which means there aren’t guaranteed jobs.
  • Careers advice and input from businesses is the missing link.

  • The future is further away than it used to be.

  • Life can feel like a pre-determined route.

  • The game is getting harder to play, and people are looking for new strategies to cope.

  • But our young people are bright, determined, focused and optimistic about the future.

Click here to see what Atticus believe this all means for brands and businesses?

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One Researcher’s feedback on using Mobile Ethnography:

It feels instantly familiar so it breaks down barriers and encourages usage – in fact, it is self-perpetuating and once our participants uploaded their first bit of content, they got hooked and engaged more and more.”

It doesn’t feel like hard work – it feels more like fun for the participant – and they also go on a journey as they learn about themselves or the experiences we are researching.”

It puts the researcher in control. With the dashboard showing uploads in real time, we can react quickly, and encourage further discussion or exploration. We can build a dialogue and keep our respondents interested and engaged – and feeling listened to! Which only encourages more involvement.”

Because mobile is how so many people communicate, so we get an amazing, natural glimpse into their world. People talking as they are thinking, being natural and intuitive. It captures experiences in the moment AND avoids post-rationalising decisions and behaviour, and young people in particular are more open and confessional using a non-confrontational and non-judgemental approach like this.”

Atticus’ conclusion was that new tools like Indeemo can help any organisation understand how consumers experience a brand, product or service and that mobile ethnography apps like Indeemo are not limited to a particular age group. They are using actively Indeemo with all types of consumer and for all kinds of research.

Give it a try or call us to pick our brains if this is something that interests you.

Are you thinking of using mobile in an upcoming project?

If so, get in touch and we will share our experiences of how apps like Indeemo can enrich your qualitative research projects.

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Mobile Ethnography White Paper

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