Ethnographies – New insights through participatory observation

You want to learn more about how your customers behave at the point of sale? Are you interested in a look behind the scenes of social desirability? You want to use uncovered consumer desires and behaviors to develop innovative products?

Then take advantage of the possibilities of participant observation. This method provides access to phenomena that are often not accessible in surveys alone. For example, because the respondents’ memories are distorted, needs are not present or a behavior cannot be retrieved in all details.

Ethnographies help to better understand the life world of the target group, their instinctive reactions, habitualized behavior and social interactions. The test persons are observed in their everyday life – for example in a store, at work, in a restaurant or at home. The observations are documented by field notes, video or photos.

What people say, what people do, and what they say they do are entirely different things.

Margaret Mead, culture anthropologist 1901 – 1978

These systematic observations are supplemented by exploratory discussions, so-called ethnographic interviews. These serve to question the observations made and to reflect together with the test persons. The supplementary questioning is important in order to better understand the potential of the observed.

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