The power of Ethnography

How important is ethnography to advertising? Ethnography for marketers, A guide to consumer immersion Gives a few answers.

The first 30 pages are just crammed with excellence, and it all starts of with this outtake from the introduction:

    The greatest challenge for market research nowadays is to deliver value by linking findings to the strategic business decisions that confront corporate decision makers. Ethnography responds to this challenge by observing consumers on their ”natural” environments and then turning these consumer encounters into ideas that transform brands and product categories.

    Ethnography takes research out of the laboratory and into homes, offices, stores, and streets where people live, eat, shop, work, and play. It permits a more holistic and better nuanced view of consumer satisfactions, frustrations, and limitations than any other research approach.

    Ethnography can offer insights into consumer language, myths, and aspirations, insights that will meet the toughest challenges brought up by strategic thinkers and brand planners.
    Ethnography for marketers, A guide to consumer immersion, by Hy Mariampolski

It also says this while discussing language:

    “Humans practice a highly selective and critical attention – they compartmentalize words and experience – and commonly see the world in ways consistent with their own anticipation, biases and presuppositions. As Edward Hall (1977) has argued, ‘language, the system most used to describe culture, is by nature poorly adapted to this difficult task. It is too linear, not comprehensive enough, too slow, too limited, too constrained, too unnatural, too much a product of it’s evolution, and to artificial.'”, page 21

This last quote fits nicely with Gladwell stating that forcing someone to describe and preference something they are not articulated to evaluate leaves them with favoring the most conservative and least sophisticated option, a choice Gladwell, Norman and Gilbert claim is one they will not even themselves favor in retrospect.

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