Ethnography: an Unfiltered View of Reality

Ethnography is a research method made for investigating cultural practices, rituals, consumer behaviour, routines and social norms. It helps our clients identify previously unseen opportunities through looking at people’s worlds in a new way, through putting behaviour at the heart of our investigation.

Ethnography – making meaning out of the mundane

Originally used as a method to understand tribes or cultures in distant lands, today it is applied to any culture including our own. Ethnography is used in numerous sectors – from healthcare, financial services and FMCG to automotive – and is so adaptable because of its dedication to interpreting human behaviour.
Despite being one of the oldest fieldwork techniques, it is often characterised as being a new, sometimes innovative, research method in market research.

The term ‘ethnography’ is sometimes misused and poorly defined by people in the world of market research, and has on occasion become a trendy word chosen to make a research tool appear more innovative, such as ‘ethno-lite’, ‘self-ethnography’, ‘webnography’, or even ‘glassnography’ (referring to participants wearing spy glasses).

In this paper, we go back to basics with a view to presenting a practical guide to the subject area.

We cover:

  • What makes ethnography, ethnography
  • The case of identity theft: What isn’t ethnography
  • Making decisions based on ethnographic insight