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Ethnographic marketing research allows companies to gain a deeper understanding of how consumers feel about their products and services based on how they actually use them in their daily lives. Traditional market research involves focus groups interviewed in a conference room, but conducting this research in an artificial setting denies researchers insights they may gain by observing how consumers use products in their natural social context.
Ethnographic researchers conduct interviews at sites where consumers actually use products, such as offices and restaurants, and even in their home environment, and observe their behavior in a natural setting. This also allows researchers to ask follow-up questions to validate their observations. This research may also uncover hidden needs that are not being met, which would provide the company with valuable information it can use to modify its products, or create new ones.
For companies, ethnography provides them with a greater insight into actual consumer behavior by clarifying discrepancies between what people say they will do when interviewed by a researcher and what they would actually do when in a real-world setting. Thus, they can tailor their products and services to not only ensure greater customer satisfaction but also make it more likely that consumers will pick their offerings over those of their competitors.