How to conduct app-led consumer research: Exclusive interview with Roamler

By Chris Lee

Companies looking to get real life consumer researchers now have the option of using Roamler, a free app which enables brands to use incentivised crowdsourcing to conduct research. Roamler, developed in the Netherlands by entrepreneurs Wiggert de Haan and Martijn Nijhuis, has now launched in the UK and NMK was presented with the opportunity to quiz de Haan on how the platform works.

Roamler is a free iPhone application that allows users to perform fun and creative tasks in return for ‘experience points’ and in most cases, a cash reward. Assignments are undertaken on behalf of brands who want to embark on insight with real life, on the ground consumer researchers. This ‘mobile workforce’ can be assembled within short time frames and in specific locations, according to de Haan.

Having witnessed the astronomic growth of smartphones, de Haan said he and co-founder Nijhuis had a vision for utilising them and capitalising on the growing phenomenon of crowdsourcing in order to provide market insight for brands, whilst in turn benefiting individual users.

How Roamler works

So once the user has downloaded the app, how does Roamler work? de Haan explained that tasks vary in complexity and can include taking a photograph, filling out a simple checklist or writing a short review. For example, ‘Roamlers’ – as users are known – were instructed on behalf of Red Bull to monitor certain venues close to them to review whether the drink’s presentation met the brand’s high standards. Roamlers were challenged with ordering a single vodka Red Bull drink, monitoring timings, taking a photograph and assessing staff knowledge.

“Roamlers are set tasks to gain points and money. These tasks are either home-based or scout-based tasks (location-based) and will ask the Roamler to either take a photo or answer some questions relating to that particular assignment,” de Haan told NMK. “As soon as the Roamler sends in the data, we check it and if we approve it then the Roamler receives points or money.”

Roamler also works with satellite navigation system TomTom. ‘Roamlers are asked to perform street tasks such as taking imagery of roads or highway signs to ensure the brand’s system and customer documentation is kept up-to-date. In particular, photographs of closed-off streets and construction work are requested, in order that TomTom can update its information on current road works.

Other brands that Roamler is working with include Unilever UK, Royal Mail and the Greater London Authority, de Haan added.

By performing tasks ‘Roamlers’ can earn money, badges and experience points and reach higher levels. Location-based tasks pop up on their screen every time there is one available nearby. Roamlers can ‘cash out’ their balance at any time via PayPal and will incur no transaction fee unless the amount is £20 or less. But how does Roamler itself make money?

“We collect data for brands, which provides them with market insight,” de Haan explained. “Some assignments are ad hoc or structural, others are multi-client based. We charge a fee to the brands we collect information for, but give part of it to our Roamlers for carrying out the tasks.”

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