MPlanet
Gerald Lombardi, Ph.D., and North American director of observational and ethnographic practice for pollsters GfK-NOP, believes “ethnographers are essential to the marketing process, particularly at the ‘fuzzy front end’ of product development,” writes Brooke Capps in Advertising Age.

“During his ‘Ethnography & Its Impact on Marketing’ session [at the inaugural MPlanet conference this week], Mr. Lombardi stressed how ethnographers can help uncover the ‘unknown unknowns’ (to quote Donald Rumsfeld) about consumers and use those findings to directly shape more efficient and effective surveys.”

Michael Treacy, co-founder and chief strategist at GEN3 Partners, a consulting firm that specializes in product innovation, agreed. In his ‘Reinventing Innovation in Consumer Products; presentation, he said, ‘Right now we’re not very good at identifying what people need. Sometimes you can do focus group after focus group and [because of certain product limitations assumed by the consumers] often times the customer is the dumbest guy in the room.’”

“In Mr. Treacy’s push for creating a scientific approach to innovation and producing the breakthrough product consumers didn’t know they needed — but fervently embrace — the first step is to use ethnographic studies ‘to the point of being the consumer’.”

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