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  • Writer's pictureKaylie Dugan

Understanding Ethnography Marketing Research

Ethnography Marketing Research

Ethnography Marketing Research is a qualitative market research method in which a moderator and research team interviews respondents in their homes or offices to obtain observational insights into their lifestyles and everyday behaviors.

What Is Ethnography Marketing Research?

Ethnography is a relatively new form of market research where we interview one person (or three friends) for a longer period of time in their home or place of business. Our method is to talk in a friendly way – researcher to consumer – to uncover insights that help brands and products prosper. Our researchers are skilled in developing rapid rapport with consumers as we come from a human-talking-with-human perspective. Personally, I find it a much better approach than focus groups because people are freer to express what’s really going on with them.

What Are The Types Of Ethnographic Marketing Research?

The broad focus of Ethnographic Research is to talk with consumers in depth and in situ. Prior to the recent pandemic, interviews were conducted in consumers’ homes (or occasionally at their place of business) for about two hours. We picked up lots of research clues by looking around the home and watching people use products in their own environment. On occasion, we modified our Ethnographic Research Marketing to include two friends of the person, and this makes for more lively conversation and additional insights.

Since the pandemic, we have modified our Ethnography format by taking it online using video conferencing. This ethnographic approach allows us to recruit end users from across the nation. We call this format of digital ethnography Community Dialogues. It turns out this is superior to in-home ethnography in several ways. Customers are in their own environment and are more comfortable talking. And compared to focus groups, they are more forthcoming. In addition, client market researchers and brand people can more easily observe either in real time or view a recording at their leisure.

What Are The Advantages Of Ethnographic Research Marketing?

First and foremost, consumers are in their own environment so they are more comfortable expressing themselves clearly, openly, online researcher and honestly. And compared to focus groups, each person we interview is the center of attention with all the focus on their ideas and opinions. For in-home Ethnography Market Research, we film the entire interview on camera. For the online approach, we use a video conferencing recording service.

Another advantage of in-homes is that two or three clients come along with us to really get the experience of ethnographic research deep in their minds and hearts. On the other hand, for the Community Dialogues method, there are no travel expenses, which brings the cost down.

When you conduct Ethnographic Marketing Research with Driven to Succeed, you also have the advantage of our vast experience with this marketing approach. Each of our ethnography professionals is quite skilled with the method and with uncovering the research insights that are at the heart of our offering.

We believe the major and irreplaceable advantage of Ethnography Marketing Research is the deep empathy of the human connection between the online researcher and end user. This approach allows us to go deep with the insights we provide in our reports so that brand people have a permanent bonding with the consumers they are marketing to.

What Are The Limits Of Ethnographic Research Marketing?

Our view is that Ethnographic Marketing Research is vastly superior to focus group respondents because of the depth of understanding and connection brands make with their consumers. In-home ethnography is definitely preferable for the depth of the learning, but when brand budgets are tight, money can be an issue.

That’s where video conferencing Community Dialogues are a great alternative approach. They cost less and can be completed quickly, with client brand and research professionals still able to view the interviews.

Most market research companies that conduct Ethnographic Marketing Research take time to issue their final reports. Driven to Succeed is the exception. Our reports are generally available in just a few days, with video highlights soon after.

What Is The Power Of In-Home Ethnographic Market Research?

There is great power in observing consumers in their own homes. We can see what their house looks like inside and out, how they decorate, their level of housekeeping, etc. We are able to focus on many other factors we can see. In addition, consumers are much more likely to be open and honest as there are no other people with differing points of view. In our in-home market research efforts, people can get quite emotional, even tearing up with things that are deeply held, important, or uncomfortable to talk about.

The biggest advantage of our proprietary form of Ethnographic Research Marketing is our probing methods. We listen closely to what consumers say, and more importantly, what they don’t say. For the latter, we can gently ask additional probing questions to uncover the real meaning of what’s in their minds and hearts.

Another huge advantage of this method is watching the consumer actually use the product. Often, they are using it in their own way, regardless of the product instructions. Also, we learn how they store the product when they buy it and their true feelings about brand benefits. All these questions lead to valuable insights.

What Is The Power Of Digital Ethnography?

The pandemic forced us to be creative on the best method to stay in touch qualitatively with customers, and our proprietary Community Dialogues turned out to be a brilliant approach. We recruit people who have a similar user profile in common, so we can talk to several sub-categories in each project. In addition, we gain insights from around the country rather than being limited in geography the way we are with focus groups.

We find that Digital Ethnography also allows people to be more forthright in their answers. In focus groups, the loudest person tends to dominate while the more introverted remain silent. Digital Ethnography gives everyone equal footing to express their point of view, even when it is different from other end users.

Another advantage of Digital Ethnography is that we can conduct and report the results more quickly. And with no travel time and expense, the cost of the overall project is reduced.

What Is The Art Of Ethnographic Research Analysis?

One of our primary points of difference is in our graphic final reports. First, we start with a single insight summary page: one main finding along with its meaning and so what, followed by three major insights. The next page is a custom-designed graphic map with all the key information laid out in an interesting and intriguing format. The report also contains six to eight pages of more detailed key findings, all using a very graphic format. Gone are the days of 50-page dense written reports that simply sit on the shelf at the client’s office.

The other key advantage of our reports is the video summaries we create. This allows brand people to hear customers in their own words and vernacular. These summaries are from the in-home cameras or the video conferencing recordings. Our videos start with the key findings in the consumers’ point of view, followed by snippets from the five or six main areas delineated in the discussion guide.

Many of the senior brand folks rave about our summary reports and videos because they can learn everything they need very quickly.

Summary Of The Advantages Of Our Ethnography Marketing Research

  • Driven to Succeed’s in-home interviews connect deeply with consumers, allowing us to uncover insights about the category and brand that come from both the head and the heart.

  • Our online Community Dialogue method allows us to drill down on important sub-categories to uncover key insights by allowing like-minded people to come together. In addition, it is a less expensive and quicker method as there is no travel time and other expenses involved.

  • Our graphic reports and video summaries are interesting and provide key insights and important findings that can be read and integrated quickly and deeply.

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Driven to Succeed is an award-winning global market research and consulting firm that compliments data (the “what”) with empathetic research and conversations (the “why”) to help Fortune 500 companies and high-growth brands uncover insights to innovate and grow. Our team has walked a mile in your shoes with over 100 years of experience in Market Research, Marketing, and P&L Management for global iconic brands and startup companies across diverse B2B and B2C industries.

Answers to Your Ethnography Questions

WHAT IS ETHNOGRAPHIC RESEARCH? Ethnography is a qualitative research method, traditionally conducted in a consumer’s home and videotaped. The interview normally lasts about two hours. The questions are in-depth and cover the consumer’s lifestyle and family, the brand category, and the consumer’s current brand purchases. The interview often includes watching the consumer use the product.

WHAT ARE THE TYPES OF ETHNOGRAPHIC RESEARCH? Ethnographies are most often done in consumers’ homes or places of business. Since the pandemic, the research now is often done online, speeding the interviewing time, and lowering the cost of the project.

WHAT ARE THE TYPICAL FEATURES OF ETHNOGRAPHIC RESEARCH? Ethnography discussions are most often conducted from general topics to more specific ones. They may start with information on the consumer’s life, lifestyle, and family, then move to the product category in general, followed by the specific brand the consumer uses and considers. The interview may conclude by showing some specific brand elements or marketing communications.

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