Wearing Your Opinion: The Impact of Wearables on Qualitative Research

From the desk of Kathy Doyle

As the pace of change continues unabated, a rapidly emerging trend is the development of “wearable technology,” clothing and accessories that deliver and capture data while the user is wearing them.   According to the NPD Group’s new Wearable Technology Study, “52% of consumers say they’ve heard of wearable technology devices… (and) among those aware of the devices, one-in-three say they are likely to buy one of them.“ As consumer adoption increases, the potential applications for market research are exciting.

As a qualitative researcher, I am intrigued by the possibilities of incorporating wearables into our study designs to increase the impact and value of the work we do. Wearables will allow us to collect some data passively, reducing self-report biases, increasing compliance, and saving moderator time to focus on the whys of the behaviors captured via technology.

Some possible applications include:

  •  Health and Wellness: activity monitors, drug monitors and smart clothes will eliminate the need to spend time asking the question “when was the last time you…” or asking respondents to keep a diary of their behaviors over a period of time. Instead, we will be able to get straight to the “why’s” of a consumer’s behavior, leading to insights that are grounded in actual data and not self-reported behaviors
  • Shopper Insights: video glasses will allow us to gather data on exactly what a consumer is looking at while they shop, and then combine it with the “why’s” behind the behavior, to provide really powerful insights.   Another emerging technology, iBeacons, will pinpoint precisely where the shopper is standing within a particular store, allowing us to talk to someone who is in exactly the aisle we are interested in exploring, and capture in-the-moment insights while the authentic shopper behavior is taking place.

For a perspective on how wearables will impact survey research, here is an interesting article by Madhav Mirani, Chief Marketing Officer at Ugam Solutions.

At Doyle Research we are embracing the chance to pilot some of these exciting new technologies with our clients.   Contact us if you are interested in exploring how the use of wearables might benefit your research efforts.

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