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Ethnographic Market Research

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Ethnographic Market Research

Ethnographic market research is the term used to describe the form of systematic market research, whereby researchers observe participants using a product or service, in their own environment.

Using this method can provide beneficial insights into how consumers use a product or service and a platform to identify gaps in the market, to make way for breakthrough revolutions.

Ethnographic market research can be used for both B2B and B2C products; it often takes the form of:

  • Participating in communities;
  • Gathering qualitative data through asking a blend of structured and unstructured interviews;
  • Direct observation;
  • Analysing main issues within the qualitative data and identifying any contradictions.

An example of ethnographic market research would be research undertaken by Panasonic.

Panasonic observed the behaviour of women in the US whilst grooming, and were able to gain a valuable insight into what colours and designs would benefit their consumers, based on the observations that they made.

As a result, Panasonic designed the Lady Shaver, a product which stood out from other shavers, previously developed in Japan.

Ethnographic research is often employed by market researchers, who would be required to visit people in their homes and offices to gain an insight into how a new product will integrate into their lives, in a non-direct way.

Some people may not be able to effectively articulate what a product would mean to their life, or what changes would be required to an existing product to make it better suited to them. Therefore, ethnographic research allows the researcher to obtain that information, with little disruption to the participant’s routine.

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