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WhatsApp, a research add-on with potential

My Experience

A few months I posted this content already. But it was just in the open, without a website backbone, resulting in little exposure. so I though I give my small reflection note a second change. here we go.

I would like to share my personal individual experience with WhatsApp.

A quick note on using WhatsApp for qualitative research. Looking back at the project I must say it can be considered as an interesting add-on to the research project.

But maybe some research specs first.

The nature of the research was explorative (exploration of different x consumption moments). The method,: focus groups on central location, 12 focus groups in total spread over 4 life stages and 2 languages.

Main purpose of working with WhatsApp was to add an extra (visual) ± ethnographic layer to the research: It was positioned as a pre-group task in which participants were asked to register specific x occasions.

I created 8 different WhatsApp groups. Total sample size: n=96

Main challenges

  • How to activate the participants

  • How to follow up and stimulate the participants to continue taking pictures

  • How to manage the collected data

My learnings

  • How to activate the participants? it is important to be very very clear about what you are looking for. Otherwise the output can be very poor. In my experience, the more transparent you are in the purpose and aim of the exercise the better the outcome. It also helps the participants when you (for the clips) give practical guidelines in terms of length, commenting or not … I learned it by trial and error but finally I succeed to have interesting and good material. In total n=72 posted at least 1 clip or photo. Participants received a financial incentive for posting clips and pics.

  • How to follow up and stimulate the participants to continue taking pictures? I would advise to use the WhatsApp feature where your pc screen takes over your smartphone screen. (on you can find the instructions how to do it). It makes it much easier to have a quick and easy overview of the activity. It allows to communicate with the groups and the individuals in a very smooth way.

  • How to manage the collected data? That was for me a very though one. One main thing I have incorrectly assessed: looking at your photo/video gallery the pics and clips are not labeled by group. so all the pics of the 12 groups, the 72 participants were mixed up. I was obliged to work via WhatsApp to retrieve the sender and to label the visuals accordingly. Second issue, having photos with comments, only pics are download in the gallery, the text has to be cut-copy-pasted directly from the WhatsApp text post, so very labor intensive (maybe there is other way, but I did not find it).

Main conclusion

It is a relevant and a rich add-on to, e.g. traditional research. It brings you closer to your participants. It generates quite some photo material which can be used to illustrate findings. The task, being prior to the sessions, activates participant to think about own behavior and stimulates to get into the topic. And fourthly (a positive side effect) the participants get to know each other prior to the session. So a first meet & greet already took place before even starting the session.

About us

MaResCon Consulting was founded by Frank Geers in January 2012. After an active career of 21 years in marketing and market research, becoming an independent research consultant was the next logical step.

Qualitative Market Research is our core business.

From a market research perspective our promise is to think about the best possible research solution in a method independent way. All research approaches (online, offline, mobile,…) have their strengths and weaknesses. With every new project, we challenge ourselves to select the most appropriate and effective method.

Contact details:

+32 497 523 528

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