research takes the concept of culture as the
principal analytical tool for classifying and explaining
consumer and user dynamics. Culture encompasses the
world view and value system that gives meaning to
people’s concept of self and their roles in
daily life. Culture frames our consciousness, ideals,
and aspirations as members of society.
perspective focuses on the extra-individual.
A psychological perspective emphasizes the individual
motives, drives, needs, and impulses that shape behaviour
in the marketplace. To explain consumer behaviour
and choices comprehensively, we should move beyond
a psychological framework that assumes individual
motivation and make-up are the key to understanding
consumption practices to an analysis of the lived
context of people and brands/products/services.
of ethnographic research is to reveal reality
from the consumer's or user's perspective through
the process of induction. Induction is a form of reasoning
that makes generalizations based on the observation
of individual instances. This approach offers a unique
opportunity to generate strategic insights. It is
achieved through a mix of asking and observing.
Differentiating features of ethnography:
– takes place within
the context of consumers’ and users’
lives as they are engaged in product usage, purchase,
and other everyday activities and involves a mix
of asking people what they do and seeing exactly
what happens in reality.
- Use of observation
– looking is a central
data collection technique in addition to discussion
and question-and-answer tactics.
– engagements are less
structured and the ethnographer relies on inductive
strategies to gain insights versus seeking confirmation
of preconceived hypotheses.
– ethnographers explore
an entire product usage, consumption, "itinerary"
or purchase cycle or "a day in the life".
In this way, they are able to capture details and
nuances seemingly unrelated to the specific behaviour
of interest that may be overlooked or unanticipated
but offer insight.
- Contextual –
ethnographers try to account for the entire context
and environment associated with product/service
usage. The sites where product/ service usage takes
place (e.g. home, workplace) are the focus of analysis
as well as the consumer.
– getting as close
to the consumer as possible by spending enough time
so rapport is developed and natural behaviour that
is not self-conscious reveals itself.
– being less directive
in approach (letting things unfold) permits a more
unfiltered view of the consumer.
- Behavioural –
ethnography provides behavioural as well as attitudinal
data (i.e. ethnographers pay attention to what consumers
actually do as opposed to what they say they do
or wish they had done). This helps the ethnographer
move away from an idealized or socially approved
reporting of behaviour.
Mariampolski, Hy. Ethnography
for Marketers. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, 2006.
Sunderland, Patricia L., and Rita M. Denny. Doing
Anthropology in Consumer Research. Walnut Creek: Left
Coast Press Inc., 2007.
Desjeux Dominique, La consommation, PUF, 2006