Does GPS technology bring value on marketing research?

According to market survey, 900 million mobile phones that incorporated GPS were sold globally in 2012.GPS technology not only has been used in personal data collection, as the form of data collection for market research, it has been accepted by many company. For example, it could track the people’s movement thus obtaining accurate information on their everyday habits, including the shopping habits, driving habits and so on.

As the manner of primary data collection, the collection of GPS data is more advantage than other method of data collection. We must realise data collection is a very important process in market research, because good decision require good data. Although second data could provide staring point and be useful to define research problems, in most situations, the researchers must collect primary data, because we need to carefully evaluate the quality of secondary data, such as relevance, accuracy and impartiality. There are many advantages about GPS-conducted primary data collection. Firstly, it could allow the marketing organisation to address specific research issues, while the secondary research may not fit their needs. For instance, tracking driving habits aims to inform insurance companies. Moreover, it also enables users to have a higher level of control over to know the process of data collection. For example, how many participants will be tracked by GSP, what location of the research is, what the geographic areas are. Furthermore, using GPS to collect the primary data offers a primary research to the firm without sharing with others, which can be seen as the ‘information advantages’.

The collection of GPS data is one of the quantitative researches that enable marketers to generate quite precise data. Sometimes participants were not enable to remember what they did or where they went. Using GPS devices to track their footmark will ensure the results are more accurate. Furthermore, Comparing with the traditional method, such as qualitative method-observation, the collection of GPS data is strength at the accuracy of counts of participants and activities. For instance, for obtaining the data about the passengers’ behaviours at destination, using different method for data collection on tourist mobility, such as map techniques through questionnaires, it just rely on the small-scale maps, may loss the detailed information. Face-to-face interviews, to some extent, reflect the interviewers’ perceptions that resulting in the recall bias potentially. However, the powerful function of GPS technology is obvious. Especially, as a new surveying instrument, GPS generates the high precision data on passengers’ mobility, like the ‘Destination cards’ with an embedded chip is aimed to track and collect data on passengers’ movement. It records the spatial and temporal data more accurate, such as which attractions is the most popular, how long they visit there. Therefore, the collection of GPS data would provide the objective data, improve the quality of information and overcome the limitation of traditional method.

In addition, the issue of sample size is also need to be considered in marketing research. How many people should be investigated? Which method would be suitable for the certain data collection? General speaking, large samples are more reliable than small samples. It is no doubt that the sample size is large enough through collection of GPS data.

It is also important that marketers must be aware of the cost-benefit ratio of sample size. The overall cost of GPS data collection is less than other method. For example, Trimble Navigation, Ltd, the company makes GPS receivers which conducted a survey about the cost of data integration:


In short, the collection of GPS data would bring value on the market research. However, it should be further studied that whether or not GPS technology can be a must-have for all types of market research.

Reference list

De Cantis, S, Ferrante, M, Kahani, A, & Shoval, N 2016, ‘Cruise passengers’ behavior at the destination: Investigation using GPS technology’, Tourism Management, 52, pp. 133-150,

Primary Research – Advantages (2016). From Data Collection: Primary Research Methods Tutorial. Retrieved April 17, 2016 from


DAN LI- 214385605   Deakin email:

WordPress username: lindalidan


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