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Why use Whatsapp for market research
How can I use Whatsapp for Market research
Types of Questions you can ask via WhatsApp
How can you recruit participants for WhatsApp Research?
Receiving and analysing the data
In the dynamic business environment of today, market research plays a pivotal role for companies vying for a competitive edge. Understanding consumer preferences, habits, and needs helps businesses in decision-making and strategy formulation. A standout tool that has shown remarkable effectiveness for market research, particularly in Africa, is WhatsApp. This blog post delves into the power of WhatsApp as a market research tool and the unique way it can bridge the gap between your business and your target audience in Africa.
WhatsApp, a prominent messaging app under the Facebook/Meta umbrella, launched in 2009, has emerged as a universally adopted communication tool. WhatsApp equips its users with the ability to exchange text messages, images, videos, voice notes, and documents, and enables voice and video calls. The platform's end-to-end encryption ensures secure and private conversations.
Recent years have seen an exponential increase in the number of WhatsApp users in Africa, attributed to the growing penetration of mobile internet and affordable smartphones. WhatsApp's localisation initiatives, such as multilingual support, have also played a part in its widespread acceptance across the continent.
Specifically in Africa:
The cost-effective nature and low data consumption of WhatsApp have made it a preferred communication tool in Africa. The app's user-friendly interface and widespread availability have further solidified its integration with local businesses and services.
WhatsApp is a cost-effective communication medium in Africa. With only ~1 KB per message, users can send up to 1000 messages with just 1 MB of data. Additionally, a phone call costs 400 KB per minute, making it significantly more affordable than traditional phone calls.
Average data costs across African countries:
South Africa: $2.06/GB
WhatsApp's user-friendly interface and multilingual support make it accessible even to those who are not digitally literate. Despite the app's initial size of 78 MB, WhatsApp backs up your messages, allowing users with storage constraints to delete messages without losing data.
Many African businesses and service providers use WhatsApp Business to interact with customers, creating an in-app storefront linked to their number. A year post the launch of WhatsApp Business, five million businesses were already using it.
WhatsApp presents several benefits for market research, including:
There are mainly three ways in which you can use WhatsApp for market research:
Utilising a WhatsApp group as a focus group can be an innovative and efficient way to conduct qualitative market research. Focus groups offer a unique opportunity to delve deeper into consumers' thoughts, opinions, and experiences. When conducted on WhatsApp, focus groups benefit from the convenience and ease of online communication.
Pros of using focus groups
However, there are cons to consider.
Overall, using WhatsApp groups as focus groups can yield valuable qualitative data, but it's important to carefully plan and moderate the discussions to minimise bias and maximise insights.
Let’s say I am conducting a diary study on 60 people. And we want to know which products they use in the kitchen on a daily basis. This diary study will be split into 3 Days.
If I was doing a diary study through Whatsapp, I would
Whatsapp allows you to build bots on top of it, so this can be a way for you to create a Google form type bot that is purely based on Whatsapp for your research needs.
Unfortunately, I can’t get into the nitty-gritty of creating a bot, but here’s a link to an article that takes it into detail. Click here . But here is a small outline
1. Getting access to the WhatsApp API through Meta and verified Facebook Business Account:
2. Pricing considerations when choosing a bot platform:
3. Choosing a Bot Platform: Technical vs. Non-Technical Ease of Use and Customizability:
Platforms you can choose from:
A WhatsApp chatbot is also a good route because you can immediately download the data you collected into a Google Sheet to be analysed and used to fuel your growth.
This is also an option if you are not the type to want to deal with the technical side of things. Don’t have to worry about developers and admin fees but just want to be able to use the chatbot. Pair up with a company that already has a WhatsApp chatbot and leverage its software to launch your research project on WhatsApp. It’s best to pair up with a company that has experience doing market research through WhatsApp with their chatbot. *hint hint askyazi.com.
A chatbot is usually ideal since the participants can respond to your questions whenever they can at their own pace. They are also ideal for mass qualitative research.
Within a chatbot, you can ask them different types of questions as well. You can ask your participants to answer your questions in the following formats
When conducting surveys on WhatsApp using a research or survey bot, the types of questions you can ask are more diverse than your average digital survey tool, which can enhance the data collection process and provide more well-rounded insights. Below, we will delve into the different question types available in WhatsApp surveys and discuss how each one works, along with their specific use cases.
The voice note question type allows participants to respond to survey prompts by recording an audio clip. This question type is valuable when seeking qualitative insights and gaining a deeper understanding of the participant's perspective. It mimics a user interview, providing richer and more detailed responses.
When to use:
Use voice note questions when you want participants to provide detailed explanations, share personal stories, or express opinions that require a more nuanced and qualitative approach.
WhatsApp has recently introduced a powerful feature that enhances the user experience (UX) of surveys—the use of buttons. For 2-3 options, they are displayed as buttons in the chat (see below), while 4-10 options appear as a selectable list after you click a burger menu icon in the chat.
Buttons provide an intuitive and interactive way for participants to respond to questions, revolutionising the survey experience on WhatsApp. Instead of relying solely on text-based responses, buttons offer a more streamlined and engaging approach, making it easier for participants to provide feedback.
When to use:
This question type is suitable for structured data collection, straightforward responses, or when you need participants to choose one option among specific options.
Similar to multiple choice questions, multi-select multiple choice allows participants to choose multiple answers from the provided options. Participants can indicate their selections by providing the associated answer letter (e.g., A, C, F), separating multiple choices with commas (e.g., A, C, F). This question type offers versatility in capturing nuanced preferences or multiple responses within a single question.
When to use:
This question type is also suitable for structured data collection, when you need participants to choose one or more options that might apply to them.
When we ask for Multiple choice questions, from time to time there is a multi-select option for them. So then the participant would answer in A, B, and C to indicate which multiple-choice answers they picked.
You are also able to ask people to respond to you in open text. Meaning they can respond to you in their own written words. This helps you understand their context and the way they think about the question at hand.
When to use:
Exploratory research: when you are exploring a new topic or area and want to gain a deeper understanding of participants' perspectives and experiences. like understanding complex topics or capturing diverse viewpoints.
The video question type enables participants to respond to survey prompts by recording and sending videos. Videos can be particularly useful for capturing contextual information, such as the participant's environment, or providing in-field data. They offer a visual and personal perspective, similar to voice notes, enhancing qualitative insights.
When to use:
Opt for video questions when you need visual context, in-field data, or a deeper understanding of participants' experiences through visual cues.
With image/picture questions, participants can upload and share images or pictures as responses to survey prompts. This question type allows for collecting visual evidence or capturing aspects of the participant's life or environment. It can be used to support their answers or gather data that requires visual representation.
When to use:
Utilise image/picture questions to gather visual evidence, collect screenshots, or gain insights into participants' surroundings or specific aspects of their lives.
Because WhatsApp has video and image sending within their app, we are also able to provide that as one of the ways you collect participants' responses. On the Google Sheet, you will get a link that will send you to the image of the video that the participant would have sent to you and allow you to download it.
Using different question types in WhatsApp surveys with a research or survey bot can provide diverse insights and enhance the quality of data collected. Voice notes and videos offer qualitative perspectives, while image/picture questions capture visual evidence. Multiple choice and multi-select multiple choice questions provide structured responses. Consider the specific objectives of your research to determine which question types will best serve your needs and enable you to gather comprehensive and actionable insights.
Now a question you might be asking yourself is, “ Okay I want to give WhatsApp a try for my research and experience the benefits firsthand, but how do I recruit people for my research?
Well, that is quite straightforward. You can do it in 3 different ways:
Recruiting through Facebook ads or any other social media platform works quite well but you would need some budget to spend to expect any type of return. We are looking at about ~R2000 for about 300 people. That also depends on what your advertisement looks like and what the incentive is for the people you are targeting.
How to set it up:
QR code and WhatsApp link work if you are going more in person. An example I can give you is if you were doing research in the townships of South Africa. Specifically, you are looking for people who buy at spazas and tuck shops and would like to know which brands they prefer to buy when they are there.
One way to use the QR code is to go into a partnership with a couple of local spazas or tuckshops in that township and ask them to have your QR code sticker there to recruit people. Your QR sticker is accompanied by a small flyer or brochure explaining what people would have to do to get the incentive that is linked to them completing your survey or diary study!
People Scan and they get sent to your chatbot immediately and they are ready to get on board with your research
The referral programme is self-explanatory, the good old word of mouth but that is obviously driven by incentive. Usually works well with people that completed the survey and have been incentivised by you. This makes your recruiting easier because they are getting referred to you by someone they trust, a friend. Family member, colleague etc.
Keep it transparent with the person who is going to be referring you. A good incentive is usually half of what they earn from completing your survey, but it heavily depends on your budget. Clearly stipulate to them that they will only get their incentive if the person they have referred completes their survey as well.
Steps to start one:
Depending on the option you choose for your research, there are different approaches to capturing and managing the collected data:
Ultimately, the approach you choose depends on factors such as your research requirements, available resources, and technical capabilities. Manually capturing data from a focus group WhatsApp group requires active participation, while building your own WhatsApp survey bot or using a company's existing bot allows for automated data capture and integration with databases or spreadsheets, streamlining the process and enabling more efficient analysis of the collected data.
Once you have collected data from your WhatsApp survey bot, you can easily organise and store it in a Google Sheet or a database for further analysis. The data structure can be set up in a way where the user ID is placed in column A, and each answer is placed in a subsequent row starting from column D. This layout ensures that each respondent's responses are captured horizontally in a single row, similar to how data is received from Google Forms responses.
After importing the data into a Google Sheet or database, you can leverage various data visualisation tools for analysis.
One option is Google Looker Data Studio, a free and user-friendly tool that allows you to connect your data source and create insightful visualisations and dashboards. Looker Data Studio provides a range of visualisation options, such as charts, tables, and graphs, enabling you to explore and present your survey data in a clear and visually appealing manner.
Setting up Looker Data Studio is relatively simple, making it an accessible choice for analysing your WhatsApp survey data and deriving actionable insights.
It usually comes in this format when you download it straight from the chatbot:
In the rapidly evolving landscape of market research, businesses are always on the lookout for innovative tools that deliver reliable and actionable insights. Given its widespread popularity and adoption in Africa, WhatsApp emerges as an effective medium for engaging with consumers and gathering valuable data. Its user-friendly interface, multilingual support, and cost-effectiveness make it a tool that fits seamlessly into the lifestyle of the African consumer.
In this blog, we've delved into how businesses can use WhatsApp for market research, ranging from hosting focus groups and diary studies to building chatbots and pairing up with existing chat services. It's also a versatile platform that allows for a wide range of question types, including voice notes, multiple-choice questions, open text, and image or video responses.
To recruit participants for your market research, you can utilise several strategies, such as social media marketing, creating a WhatsApp link or QR code, or building a referral campaign. The key here is to align your recruitment strategy with your target audience and offer compelling incentives to boost participation.
As a final note, remember that every tool is only as good as the strategy behind its use. The effectiveness of WhatsApp as a market research tool depends on how well you tailor your approach to suit your research objectives and your target audience. But with its wide reach, ease of use, and versatility, WhatsApp offers immense potential for businesses to engage with their customers and gain a deeper understanding of the African market.