Our attention was recently caught by a presentation developed by Tim Stock of scenarioDNA, proposing a ‘New Era of Expressive Research’ as a strategy for addressing the changing needs of a mobile world. Essentially, the presentation covered how, when and why we access data and content now that mobile is experiencing a shift, with data moves from living ‘in’ any single device (be it your mobile phone, your laptop or your tablet) to living in the cloud. The increasing mobility of content, coupled with data and content’s evolving role in our lives and culture requires a different approach in how ‘mobile’ is evaluated in market research.
While Stock’s presentation is worth the full read (we admit it’s rather complex), we’ve compiled some of the key notions below to instigate further evaluation–and conversation:
- There will be 788 mobile-only internet users by 2015, with cloud services empowering those mobile capabilities
- We still need to understand and identify the human being that interacts with this data – and the very human element to how that data and content is created and consumed
- This shifting world calls for a respective shift from reflexive to expressive models of research
Reflexive vs. Expressive Research:
- Reflexive research entails a circular relationship of cause and effect
- Expressive models of research aim to reveal the structure and mechanics of derived meaning
- Where reflexive research is statically focused on the factors of increasing consumer savvy, privacy concerns and an abundance of data (in trying to understand engagement)…
- Expressive research shifts the perspective to instead consider that consumers are culture-driven, that anonymous clusters will eventually diminish privacy concerns and that that identifying patterns can create narratives out of data
So how does one conduct expressive research?
- Real-time research: the role of the expressive researcher will be in revealing the structures – those culture networks that drive consumers’ learned language and attributed meanings – in the constant flow of data flowing to and from consumers
- Don’t reinvent the wheel: evaluate existing data to identify sustained and incremental insights
We welcome a market research approach that more specifically tackles the shifting role that mobile plays in our lives. While we need to see expressive research in practice to better understand the model and its potential application, we’re interested in more discussion around it.