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Ethnography in Market Research

 

The cornerstone of the ethnographic market research approach involves the researcher engaging in "participant-observation" in contexts native to the people being studied.

This means that the market research ethnographer both observes and interviews consumers in their familiar settings and in the more natural flow of their everyday activities—where they live, work, eat, groom, shop, receive care, socialize, play, etc.

There is much more to ethnography than a static "sit-down" interview in a consumer's home.

Ethnography is only distinctive from other forms of qualitative market research to the extent that it makes effective use of the contextual stimuli uniquely afforded by the research setting.

Similarly, "observational" market research in which the researcher only watches and records people's behavior, but refrains from exploring their qualitative explanations of their behavior, does not by itself qualify as "ethnography."

Our skilled consumer ethnographers know how and when to shift between intervals of interviewing and observation to achieve a more precise and comprehensive understanding of consumer behavior and thought.  

We also recognize that the ethnographic market research design requires careful crafting to ensure that data are captured as consumers are actively engaging in those specific activities and situations that relate most meaningfully to the project's objectives.