As a leader in data collection in emerging markets, GeoPoll has extensive experience performing primary research through the mobile phone in over 50 countries. Throughout our time conducting research projects in these areas, we have learned quite a bit about how to reach respondents across social classes. In this post, we will share GeoPoll knowledge on how to build a nationally representative sample that includes respondents from all socioeconomic classes.

Reaching the lowest SECs through mobile research

Conducting research with the poorest populations in countries such as Ethiopia and South Sudan has typically been done through in-person interviews. However, GeoPoll has been able to implement high-quality research methods that can reach the lowest SEC populations via the mobile phone, and at a much more reasonable price than face-to-face methods. The secret to our success came from looking at what variables have typically been a barrier to engaging the lowest SEC populations via mobile phone and working with those variables in mind.

Mobile based research that is conducted through certain modes, like SMS and Mobile Web, use written questionnaires to engage respondents. Such modes require a respondent to have sufficient reading and writing skills in order to participate in the survey. In the lowest SEC populations, literacy rates are often low. In order to engage people in low literacy populations, GeoPoll uses voice call surveys, rather than SMS or mobile web surveys, which enables us to conduct research remotely without relying on written surveys.


Literacy and mobile research sub-saharan africa

GeoPoll’s most popular research mode that uses voice calls is Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI). CATI surveys are conducted by live enumerators via a voice call with a respondent. Enumerators guide respondents through the survey and record the responses in a GeoPoll mobile application on an electronic tablet device for future analysis. GeoPoll’s CATI call centers are staffed by enumerators fluent in local languages and dialects of the target population to eliminate communication barriers that could exist between the enumerator and respondent. Although CATI is very effective at reaching the low-level SEC populations in emerging markets via mobile phone, GeoPoll also offers Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing (CAPI) as a research mode to aid the in-person interview process.

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Reaching mid-level SECs in emerging markets through mobile research methods

When setting out to reach mid-level SECs, literacy rates of the target population should still be considered but there are. In fact, the World Bank published that as of 2018 55% of adults age 15+ in sub-Saharan Africa are literate.

GeoPoll often advises that clients targeting a relatively literate mid-level SEC use the SMS mode of research. SMS is a strong method for collecting research in emerging markets because surveys can be conducted completely remotely, data is available for analysis in near real-time, and costs can be lower than voice call methods. Additionally, SMS surveys are able to engage all people from low-to-mid level SECs up to the wealthiest populations because all literate mobile phone users can receive SMS messages regardless of their device type.

Reaching the wealthy through mobile based research in emerging markets

Although the number of feature phone and smartphone users in emerging markets is increasing, there is still a large portion of people without access to the Internet through their mobile phones. Because of this, survey methods that require Internet access primarily reach those in mid-to-upper tier SEC populations. The importance of this factor in a study will depend on the project at hand.

The modes of mobile research that require Internet connectivity conducted by GeoPoll are mobile web and mobile application. The advantages of these research modes are the capabilities in comparison to the SMS and CATI modes. Mobile web and mobile application surveys can support images, videos, complex question types, and they have lower associated costs than the other modes mentioned in this post. The drawbacks are rooted in the narrower frame of respondent reach.

Reaching all SECs through mobile

At GeoPoll we understand the importance of reaching survey respondents across all social classes for quality research and data. This is why we offer a variety of methodologies to our clients. GeoPoll’s range of survey modes and methods allow us to strategically reach populations that many other research organizations cannot.

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With all of the information provided above, it may be hard to determine the best method to use for your survey to reach your target population. Keep in mind that each project has a unique set of needs; GeoPoll’s research experts have years of experience facilitating mobile based research projects all over the globe and can provide guidance on the survey mode, or combination of survey modes, best for your project. GeoPoll research experts are always available to answer your questions and address any concerns you may have. Contact us to speak with a research expert today.