Some Real-World Examples of Ethnographic Research

Some Real-World Examples of Ethnographic Research

The Harvard Business Review describes ethnography as a "branch of anthropology that requires trying to understand how people live their lives." Ethnography is an indirect technique for market research purposes in which the natural behaviour of consumers is studied in their daily environment. In order to comprehend their point of view in detail and depth, ethnography enables researchers to immerse themselves in the lifestyle of consumers.

An ethnographic study typically involves a researcher observing actions either in person or through pre-installed cameras in participating homes, workplaces, etc. Think of the Gogglebox series where audiences witness the reaction, which is ethnography, towards other people watching TV.

Logistics alone make this process expensive and time-consuming in the conventional approach, and technological advances are happening at speed, the transition of ethnographic studies to the digital world was a natural step forward.

The toolkit a researcher uses is the primary distinction between conventional and digital ethnographic studies. In the conventional version, a researcher will use cameras, notepads, etc., while they use social media, tablets, online blogs, etc. in digital ethnography.

1.    Social Media Analytics

Social media is used by 2.3 billion people and there is a total of 5.54 social media profiles for every single Internet user. There are 500 million tweets sent each day on Twitter alone and the network has 310 million active users each month. This shows the amount of input available to researchers from customers. Posts on social media are unprompted; there is no clarification on material from a researcher. On subjects that are important to the user at that moment in time, posts are shared organically. This makes interactive ethnography a perfect example of social analytics.

2. Eye Tracking

What better way to comprehend the normal behaviour of a customer than to see what they see? From knowing shopper actions, to assessing marketing efficacy, to exploring how customers engage with digital content, eye tracking has many applications in market research. All that is needed is for respondents to wear glasses that monitor the movements of their eyes as they shop, browse the Internet, etc.

3. Scrapbooks

Although scrapbooks are not as advanced as eye tracking, they are just as effective in enabling customers to show you what surrounds them, what draws their attention and what they find visually attractive. Participants simply send photographs of objects, locations, or circumstances that stand out or that they believe have had a major impact on their decision. In this way, scientists will once again immerse themselves in the world of consumers.

4. Discovery Forums

Although a photo is worth a thousand words, it's the words that matter sometimes. It is often easier to explain day-to-day habits, behaviour around the house or encounters with specific individuals (e.g. family members) in words. The anonymity created by an online environment often allows customers to open up and write in great detail.

5. Vox Pops

Vox Pop videos are another format of Mobile Ethnography. This practice utilizes to the researcher 's benefits the strong user engagement with smartphones and their complexity. Participants film brief video messages where they 'think out loud' and almost immediately share their thoughts with a researcher. For participants, this task is also a very interesting way to demonstrate how they do things: how they communicate for the first time with a product, for example. Do they read or dive straight into the instruction manual and try it out by trial and error?

6. Online Diaries

Many of you who have kept a diary know how nice it is to document your everyday experiences. Therefore, online diaries are an ideal way of getting to know your clients. Online diaries allow researchers to read 'in situ' entries, by their nature, giving them an instant insight into customer life.