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Customers as Ethnographers

Writing for the Harvard Business Review, Julie Wittes Schlack, co-founder and Senior Vice President, Innovation and Design, C Space, discusses the value of insights gathered from consumer mobile self-ethnographies. Bringing consumer experience to life for clients can be extremely valuable for a variety of purposes, including product and service development, package design, promotional strategies, as well as revealing shopper behavior and in-store behavior.

Companies are equipping consumers with mobile ethnography apps to enable these customers to upload photos or videos, provide narratives and reflections, record sounds, provide multi-media diaries, and provide brief responses to questions tailored for each project. Valuable GPS location data can also be generated by ethnography apps.

As a result of these ethnographies, marketers can immerse themselves in the sights, sounds, thoughts, experiences, and emotions of consumers. These customers become more than data points to the marketers. Self-ethnography can yield a deeper understanding and a more intimate profile of the customers for a specific product or service. In addition, well-designed mobile self-ethnographies can result in rapid, highly actionable insights.

Schlack concludes, “Ultimately, the outcome of consumer-conducted ethnography is not just to reveal unmet needs and innovation opportunities, but to humanize customers for the brands that serve them.”

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