Ethnographic research
Questionnaires and focus groups aren’t enough – now companies are having volunteers filmed for days on end to see what makes customers really tick, finds Stephen Hoare of the Daily Telegraph.

As development costs escalate so do the risks of a commercial failure. Global brands want to make sure their products succeed across national boundaries and are turning for help to a new kind of market testing – ethnographic research.

In less than a decade ethnographic research – detailed observations of the day-to-day behaviours of a small sample from a target group of consumers to shed light on how they use, choose or buy products – has established itself alongside consumer surveys and focus groups as a leading tool of market research.

Siamack Salari, boss of one firm specialising in this field called EverydayLives, explains ethnographic research as social anthropology meets the internet. Salari’s researchers follow paid volunteers for days filming their every move with a hand-held camcorder in order to uncover hidden truths about the way they lead their lives.

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