Ethnography involves testing specific mind sets or ideas regarding categories or brands, and discovering what the issues are before reaching a conclusion. It involves immersing an individual researcher or research team in the everyday activities of an organization or society, usually for a prolonged period of time.
The key essential of conducting a successful ethnographic study is a well-trained researcher skilful in immersing him or herself in diverse environments, cultures, and populations. The researcher needs to establisha rapport with people involved in these social contexts by interacting with them through participation, observation and dialogue.
The ethnographic approach is very naturalistic, and provides the kind of information that is impossible to gather from laboratory or "clean room" observational studies. This method involves gaining tacit knowledge of the population and works on the assumption that ‘what people say’ and ‘what people do’can be very different – not because consumers lie but because tacit knowledge is extremely critical in certain areas of study.
The results of this observation help uncover the populations’ attitudes, beliefs, perceptions, and values, as well as the unspoken cultural patterns that shape their behaviour. With regards to market research, the approach is used to bring the consumers opinion to bear on new product design and development of new market opportunities.
Types of methodologies in ethnography
• Participant observations
• Non-participant observations
• In-depth interviews
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