What is Ethnographic Market Research?

Ethnographic market research offers brands an insight into what people are really like, rather than what they want researchers to think they are like. This is done by studying a participant in their real-life environment and although popularised by anthropology, it’s actually used across a wide range of social sciences.

Ethnographic research is used for both B2B and B2C products and is used to provide insights into how consumers actually use products, as opposed to how they say they use it. This form of research is most useful when conducted in the early-stages of a user-centred design project. As much detail about any designer problems, and its associated issues, is discovered this way and as a result, the hopes are that the designer will be able to understand the problem from an outside point of view and solve it. It can also be used to identify potential gaps in the market.

The Challenges:

As with all different forms of market research there are challenges to overcome and with ethnographic research, there’s three main ones…

  1. Resources

In-depth ethnographic market research can mean high budgets and a lot of time required which is why many have led to relying on focus groups. Ethnography can be expensive; however, the combination of mobile technology and the willingness of participants to share their personal experiences makes ethnographic research much more accessible.

  1. Data

Although ethnographic research gathers large amounts of data, it can be difficult to analyse it all due to the above lack of resources, which is the reason why many brands choose to use specialist agencies like us to help out.

  1. Accessing Homes

Ethnographic market research is commonly carried out within homes or offices in order for researchers to understand how a product will integrate into people’s everyday lives. As a result, it can be difficult gaining the access to people’s homes and if access is granted, it’s common for clients to want to attend too.

Like we said, ethnographic research is commonly employed by Fieldwork Researchers like us. If you want to find out more about how it works, or you want to partake in it yourself then don’t hesitate to get in touch with us here at BEAM.


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