It has been said that to know someone, you need to walk a mile in their shoes. In marketing research, walking a mile in the consumers shoes is the equivalent of employing quality and insightful ethnography. Ethnographic marketing research is a study of how people live their lives by observing them in their environment (as opposed to a focus group, where subjects will gather at a designated location). Ethnography provides marketing research professionals with often ‘missing piece’ of the puzzle. For a company investing time and money into a new product or service, ethnographic marketing research provides invaluable perspectives that can make the difference between success and failure.

Ethnographic Marketing Research

Attention is paid to how and why consumers make decisions about what to buy, as well as the sort of marketing that resonates best with them. This approach is said to have originated with anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski, who immersed himself in the culture of the Trobrianders to better understand them. His research made him one of the most important anthropologists of the last century.

This kind of ethnographic marketing research often yields a wealth of usable data about what specific products mean in the lives of the buying public. As well as how these products may be used (and perhaps even re-purposed) in ways that product creators had not previously envisioned. With a quality ethnography, there is less likelihood of erroneous information being gathered and issues with inaccuracy owing to inherent bias in survey questions.

Ethnographic marketing research is important because it can provide insight through direct observation. It is sometimes the case that people may not have an accurate understanding as to why they prefer one product over another or one service over another. Therefore, marketing research without the benefit of ethnography can sometimes provide research data of questionable value. It is often the case that unique and highly useful insights into their preferences can be gleaned when researchers properly understand the decision-making process from the subject’s point of view.

To employ the power of ethnographic in marketing research, or to learn more about how we can provide other marketing research consulting solutions, contact New Perspectives today.