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

Published by gavinjohnston67

Take an ex-chef who’s now a full-fledge anthropologist and set him free to conduct qualitative research, ethnography, brand positioning, strategy and sociolinguistics studies and you have Gavin. He is committed to understand design and business problems by looking at them through an anthropological lens. He believes deeply in turning research findings into actionable results that provide solid business strategies and design ideas. It's not an insight until you do something with it. With over 18 years of experience in strategy, research, and communications, he has done research worldwide for a diverse set of clients within retail, legal, banking, automotive, telecommunications, health care and consumer products industries.

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