When Ethnography is a Good Fit (and when it’s not)

Ethnography is not the panacea, there are certain research questions/goals that make for a nice fit and others that do not. Ethnography is a good fit when:

  • A product/service or market is not well understood
  • Thinking or use of a product/service has stagnated
  • The goal is new insights or understandings
  • A consumer segment is not well understood
  • Prior to and after a segmentation or other quantitative study
  • To help “put meat to” or add dimension to quantitative understanding

Ethnography is not a good fit when:

  • Understanding is already complete
  • Hypotheses are fully bought into
  •  To generate measures of statistical significance and generalization
  • To identify statistically reliable consumer segments

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