Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Consumer Ethnography


Consumer Ethnography, a qualitative research technique, uses a variety of methods to study behavior, attitudes and culture to better understand what customers want and how they make their purchasing decisions. Ethnography, a branch of anthropology, is viewed by a growing number of experts across industries as a core marketing competency and an alternative or supplement to traditional focus groups. Instead of asking consumers to discuss products or services while sitting in a room, researchers, who are trained in ethnographic fieldwork, observe people (openly or secretly) and interview them where they live, work, play and shop. A detailed analysis of observations reveals consumer motivations and interactions with brands, and enables companies to discover new segments and design more satisfying offerings and more effective marketing campaigns.Methodology Consumer Ethnography has the greatest impact when used at the start of product development, where findings can spark innovation that translates into a winning product or service. A trained ethnographer should oversee the step-by-step research process:
Create a focused research proposal;
Allow time for thorough observation;
Develop an interview outline;
Select field techniques: one-on-one interviews, audio/videotapes, photographs, team observations;
Conduct fieldwork: at homes, stores, work, recreational sites, or a combination of locations;
Analyze findings. Common uses By chronicling the cultural trends and lifestyles that influence consumer decisions—habits, annoyances, desires, unfulfilled needs of emerging markets—Consumer Ethnography can help companies:
Break into new markets;
Refresh established products;
Transform a corporate culture—for example, transition from a technology to consumer-product focus;
Create brand image or re-brand a company or product;
Validate a new product concept.

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