TTC Mobile: ‘Step into the shoes of consumers with mobile surveys’

Sanne Handgraaf
By on February 21, 2017

This blog was written as a part of the February 2017 series on Customer intelligence revolutionising business at the Base of the Pyramid from The Practitioner Hub for Inclusive Business, in partnership with Acumen Lean Data.  Access the series for interviews with social enterprises Dr.Consulta and D.light, as well as blogs from Business Call to Action, Acumen, Social Value International and many more.


Knowing your consumers’ perspective is essential as it leads to better understanding of their needs and preferences. Acquiring knowledge on how consumers make their daily decisions and how they experience services and products becomes a specifically tough challenge when you are dealing with hard-to-reach target audiences in emerging markets. TTC Mobile has found a solution in mobile technology and developed a mobile survey sampling tool. We collect consumer insights in emerging markets and experience firsthand that unusual markets require a new approach.

Changing your perspective
It’s a Tuesday morning, and a Facebook employee is logging in to his phone. A pop-up appears that asks: “Do you want to try out the slow 2G connection for an hour?” The pop-up might have surprised you and me, but it does not surprise this Facebook employee. Already in 2015, Facebook launched an initiative called “2G Tuesday”. On Tuesdays, all employees are offered the chance to experience the use of a 2G connection instead of the 3G – or 4G – connection that they are used to, a spot-on example of how Facebook addresses the challenge of gaining consumer insights in difficult markets. The company, as well as many other global market players, has expanded its focus on the emerging markets of Africa, Asia and Latin America over the past years. With “2G Tuesday”, Facebook tries to step into the shoes of the 120 million active Facebook users in Africa, 57% of which access the social media platform using a feature phone with a 2G connection. And browsing Facebook with a limited connection can be an entirely different experience than many Facebook employers are used to, undoubtedly impacting the developing phase.

Facebook’s “2G Tuesday” perfectly exemplifies the approach needed to understand the consumer’s perspective. If global (or local) organizations want to improve their products, explicit understanding of their target audience is needed. But how do you efficiently reach out to an audience that is not so easy to reach?

Our mobile survey sampling tool
Together with MetrixLab-Macromill, a global provider of consumer insights and marketing analytics solutions, TTC Mobile developed a mobile survey sampling tool that captures tastes, preferences and opinions. The tool consists of a dedicated network of mobile partners to send SMS invites to mobile phone users and to transfer airtime incentives (prepaid top-up) to our panel members directly after survey completion. The platform is built to be agnostic as to what device or browser type panel members are using and members can reach the platform on both basic and smart phones. The surveys are always data-friendly and can easily be sent out in areas with low bandwidth mobile internet. To ensure our panel members are real and unique, we capture more than 20 data points; so-called digital fingerprinting.

Our survey tool allows organizations to comprehend their consumers and adjust their approach accordingly. Whereas Facebook knows that the majority of African Facebook users are using a 2G connection, many organizations lack detailed and crucial knowledge of their consumers. Through a 2G network on internet-enabled phones, or through SMS on the simplest models of phones, TTC Mobile can get hold of the information that organizations need in order to “know their consumer”. Coming up with the appropriate approach for a new market is only possible if you have meaningful and reliable insights.

Inspired by explosive mobile growth
The enormous potential of (internet-enabled) phones in the emerging markets of Africa, Asia and Latin America, has inspired TTC Mobile to develop our sampling tool.  Most of the mobile growth on the planet is expected to come from emerging markets and mobile phones will account for almost one-tenth of African GDP by the end of the decade, as mobile broadband connections will triple in five years.

Besides being ubiquitous in emerging markets, mobile technology has several other advantages. As consumers are increasingly living their lives on mobile devices, mobile surveys have one of the highest response speeds and are better at engaging people than traditional survey methods. Above all, mobile surveys that are sent out through SMS are particularly good for including audiences that are demographically not well represented in traditional methods, for example audiences living in remote areas.