Ethnography in Marketing

Mead’s work in Samoa has now been questioned due to work done by Derek Freeman who studied Western Samoa in the early 1 sass and mid-sass (Whiner, 1983). Regardless, Mead contributed a lot to ethnography and is still considered credible to many ethnographers. Ethnography began as a study to learn about human nature, social affiliation, and the conduct of daily life (Marsupials, 2006). Groups are typically studied in ethnography but individuals have been studied as well. Ethnography Is a form of qualitative research that Is subject-centered and a way to understand subjects on their own terms.

It Involves Interacting with people In their natural settings to understand them better. When subjects are researched this way the form Is typically less structured. It Is not laboratory based and subjects are more comfortable In areas they are already familiar with. Ethnography relies on participation as well as observation by researchers. In this method called participant- observation, researchers must be able to participate in an activity and understand the perspective of the individuals being studied as well as observe the subjects to be able to describe them to those not a part of the group being studied.

It can be difficult in that some individuals can have different experiences from others because of influences such as biases. A researcher might be repelled by their subjects, while others may make bonds with them. A researcher’s presence might also cause the subjects to act differently, not allowing accurate Information to be acquired. Ethnography Is used to better understand culture In areas such as culture behavior, cultural meanings and cultural tools. Ethnographers can learn aspects of culture behavior such as a culture’s rituals, the roles of each member, and how they lay.

Cultural meanings can be studied as well including the culture’s symbols, signs, language, beliefs and values, attitudes and opinions, interpretations, emotions and feelings, and relationships. Ethnographers can also find insight into cultural tool’s including their physical space, technology, rules, and techniques (Marsupials, 2006). Ethnography requires skilled people to establish confidence and intimacy with people quickly. In order to implement ethnography successfully one needs to set aside their own beliefs and assumptions as to not cloud their mind from learning meeting new or focus on only proving what they already believe is true.

This also includes not being Judgmental. Ethnographers need to be direct and specific. Even though It may be difficult or awkward, being direct about what you want from the subjects will allow the project to go smoothly and help the goals be achieved. They need to be good listeners and sensitive to body language in order to gain the most comfortable but also be professional and respectful. They should be flexible in order to change their approach if needed (Marsupials, 2006). All of these characteristics re needed to discover the best data from an ethnography project.

Ethnography in marketing can be referring to two separate definitions. Ethnography as a theory is seen as an intellectual approach or analytical framework. This focuses on the concept of culture and uses observed behaviors as the tool for classifying and explaining consumer dynamics. In this context culture brings insight into people’s concept of self and their roles in daily life. Theory also explores consumer’s motives and needs that shape behavior in the marketplace. Ethnography as a method emphasizes direct intact and observation of the consumer in the natural context of product acquiring and usage.

Marketers can study consumers in actual situations where products are used or services received (Marsupials, 2006). Marketing ethnography is client driven, meaning the client is the main focus. It also focuses on issues that have to do with brand and business development. Ethnography in marketing is done to achieve goals such as gaining a better understanding of consumers. Ethnographers in marketing need to be able to see things from the consumer’s point of view and be open-minded.

This can allow marketers to learn something completely different from what they had previously believed because they were possibly not thinking about the consumer, but instead only their own goals. Ethnography also involves searching for the feelings and emotions behind people’s behavior. It can help marketers better understand why consumers bought a certain product or why they felt more connected with an advertisement. This allows them to change their approach to match what the consumer relates with. Ethnography also seeks to describe the attitudes and behaviors of consumers with as much relevant detail as possible.

Marketers benefit by focusing on the acts that affect their products or services and not unrelated actions. Why Marsupials (2006) talks about steps taken for executing ethnography in marketing in his book Ethnography for Marketers: A Guide to Consumer Immersions. The steps he proposes includes briefing the client, designing the project, doing tactical planning, implementing the project, and lastly delivering findings. Briefing the client is done to make sure that the objectives and needs of the client are well now and understood to the ethnographer, as well as realistic.

A budget must also be determined that fits the scope of work done. The project design determines where the study will be taken place, how many and which respondents will participate, how much time the research will take, the role of the ethnographer, and how cooperation from the respondents will be gained. Tactical planning includes outlining the steps to complete the project, making sure everyone involved is properly trained, recruiting participants, making a schedule of the research process, and gaining access where added, such as getting approval to film certain areas.

The fourth step, implementing the project, involves respecting those involved. This includes respecting local customs or the areas being researched, as in businesses and public places. The researcher must be ethical as well during the project. Implementing the project involves the actual data collection. The researcher is the main data collection used as well. These may include a pencil, notebook, audio recorder or camera for video or photos. The final step of delivering the findings includes a data review and analysis as well reporting and presenting the results of the project based on the client’s needs.

The ethnographer must make sure these steps are done in a timely manner and finished within the client’s timeline. A realistic time limit for all five of these steps would be between ten to eighteen weeks long. Many companies have used ethnography to gain insight on their products or services. Intel used ethnography in 1995 to discover that individuals at home would be interested in processors and platforms, therefore they began to market to buyers at home and not Just companies. They used ethnography in 2009 to answer more strategic questions such as, “Will television and PC technology converge?

Are baby boomers retaining their PC and TV habits as they age, or are they comfortable shifting to new media? Will smartness take over most of the functions of personal computers? ” (Anderson, 2009). Intel has seen so much value in ethnography that they had two dozen anthropologists employed in 2009 as well as other trained ethnographers (Anderson, 2009). Proctor & Gamble (P) used ethnography in 2006 by studying party planning in American homes. Three main themes were seen in heir research, “making sure the party is fun for the host, overcoming unpleasant surprises, and ensuring the party met preconceived expectations. Out of these themes P&G decided they needed two broad product categories, “ones that give the host more time to participate in the party and ones that easily hide spills so the deep cleaning can be done later” (Berne, 2006). They are certain ethical practices that should be followed when doing ethnographic research. To begin with the individuals being studied should be aware that they are being studied and give consent to do so. Another important thing is that the participant’s rights should be respected. There should be confidentiality of the information learned about these individuals.

Documentation of observations should be anonymous, with no way of knowing the individuals researched. There should not be documentation of illegal acts done by participants, that are not harmful to the researcher, or other acts which could possibly hurt the participant’s professional life. In addition, the participants should not be harmed mentally or physically. Researchers should not discriminate when hosing participants as well, whether that means ethnicity, race, gender, or other attributes, if it is not necessary for the research.