Ethnographic Research – Its Advantages within Your Company

Ethnographic research helps the companies understand the consumers based on their lifestyle; attitudes and cultural trends. Also, they include the manner in which social context influences the selection of products and their usage. This tool helps organizations acquire knowledge regarding the user’s experience so that they can improve the customer’s experience.

This article will focus on the use of ethnographic research in a company/ business, and the benefits it brings forth. Ethnography is part of the social sciences and it involves reporting what you learn about a people and their culture.

ethnographic research

What Is Ethnographic Research

Ethnographic market research uses anthropology as a foundation. Particularly, it utilizes a variety of research techniques and platforms to give a whole picture of the consumers, concerning the way services and products fit into their day to day living. Ethnography, which hails from sociology, entails both intensive fieldwork and participant observation.

This is among the most effective ways of understanding how different people interact in their natural environment. With ethnographic research, you collect information on the behavior of the people and both quantitative and qualitative data.

This research helps companies gain insight into the experiences of the people and can associate them with the system design. With that data, it is now possible to develop services and products that will enhance the consumer experience. Ethnographic research, therefore, helps you acquire accurate information about people.

Who Uses Ethnographic Research?

Ethnographic research is no longer just a classroom affair. A number of companies have realized its value and use it to plan for long-term strategies that create value for their products. Companies use ethnography to figure out the markets so that they may create the products that people want.

Ethnographic research can be carried out on-site, in-home; virtual, and through peer parties. The on-site ethnographic research occurs when the consumer is using a product or service. The in-home sessions are more alike to the on-site sessions besides the fact that they are used within the home.

Moreover, the virtual sessions give the natural perceptions and attitudes of consumers, and they are done online. As for the peer parties, it entails several consumers coming together to talk about a product/ service, and later provide feedback. In this type of ethnographic research session, there is normally a moderator present whose work is to guide the discussion.

Ways in which Ethnographic Research Can Help your Business

The use of ethnographic research techniques by your company could imply a lot of benefits. This is one of the most in-depth research methods, and obtaining a great and factual understanding of people can help your company to design and develop products fit to your consumer needs. Listed below are some of the major advantages of ethnographic research.

  • Unleashes opportunities so that a company can differentiate its products and services from those of the competition, and also identifying new products and services to offer;
  • It draws the line between what people say, and what they do;
  • Builds a significant relationship with the research participants;
  • Accounts for the complexity of group behaviors. It reveals the links between different dimensions of interactions and defines their behavior;
  • Unveils the consumers’ experience better than other research methods;
  • Offers in-depth understanding of a people and their behavior;
  • Captures both visual and emotional behavior of a group;
  • Shows needs that were previously unclear.
  • A company can use this method to test the demand for products that are not in existence yet.

Tips on How to Conduct Ethnographic Research

1. Framing the Interview

You should ensure that the informant is comfortable because the interview requires his/her full cooperation. You should also mention the level of confidentiality they can expect. Moreover, the informant should know the duration that you expect your interview to take so that he/she may know how to answer your questions appropriately.

The interviews can either be face-to-face or over the telephone/conference calls. It is also important to give the informant a preview of the topic beforehand so that you can get the answers you expected concerning consumer behavior on your company’s product and/or service.

2. Conducting the Interview

Non-directive interviewing is the best in this research method. It helps you frame questions according to their intended meaning. A non-directive approach would explain more about the relationship between a product and the behavior of a people.

In some sessions, directive interviewing is best because some questions require being straightforward since they require direct answers. You can also sustain the flow so as to keep informants interested in giving information about a product.

cultural change

Ethnographic research might reveal some surprising choices of your customers, as well as their reasons.

3. Take notes/ Record Information Collected

It is normal not to remember everything you might have collected in your research. Notes are always helpful. They should be taken discreetly to ensure the conversion remains as healthy as it should. You should arrange them in a systematic manner to help you remember easily.

You could also bring a tape recorder, and a camera in the field. These are most useful in observing consumer behavior. You could also use a cultural test. You give people a camera and something to write on so that they can record down the information you would like to know about the others’ experience about your product, and/or service. The cultural probe can either be open or focused.


Ethnographic research aids companies in understanding their consumers. Companies can now determine how consumers feel about a particular product and/or service. Utilizing various techniques, this research model gives you a clear perspective of how consumers relate to your products and services.

Have you tried ethnographic research for your company? Leave a comment below and let us know!

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