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Qualitative Market Research Methods

Ethnography is just one type of qualitative research.

We also excel in conducting a broad range of "traditional" qualitative market research methodologies, including focus groups, individual in-depth interviews (IDIs), and telephone in-depth interviews (TDIs), for many different types of consumer and marketing research projects.  

Our high-level interpretive skills and analytic rigor extend to any type of qualitative data, whether collected during an ethnographic "shop-along" or in a mirrored central research facility.

We do, however, introduce a unique ethnographic sensibility to traditional qualitative market research conducted in research facilities—cautiously exploring how respondents' accounts of their thoughts, motivations, and decision-making may, in fact, differ when they are dynamically immersed in real-world situations.

For multiple projects, we have creatively blended an ethnographic market research approach with traditional qualitative research methods through the inclusion of varied research phases.

Beginning a project with IDIs, for example, can be a cost-effective way of increasing the overall consumer sample, eliciting focused feedback on specific research stimuli, and allowing for the preliminary identification of key consumer insights.

The subsequent ethnographic market research phase then not only provides a more grounded verification of and elaboration on these initial findings, but also produces a fresh set of consumer insights that could not be discovered in a research facility.

Ethnographic Toolbox

For many ethnographic projects, we also include specific methodological and interpretive exercises that complement and enhance the insights generated from the core contextual interviews and observations.




The cornerstone of the ethnographic approach involves the researcher engaging in "participant-observation" in contexts native to the people being studied. This means that the ethnographer both observes and interviews respondents 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.