Ethnography

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Ethnography in industry: Methods overview (part one) Editor’s note: PARC contributed a version of this post to UX Magazine.

Ethnography in industry: Methods overview (part one)

You can see that article here. It’s really hard for companies to understand ethnography — even after they understand what objectives it can be used for. In this second post in our series on ethnography [you can read the first one here], I thought it might be useful to provide an overview of data COLLECTION methods (and methodologies) that ethnographers use to understand a particular population or situation of interest; while specific needs vary, for our clients the general goal is to help them address a murky problem or innovate differentiated products. Note the emphasis on data “collection” as opposed to data ANALYSIS. The latter is an important — though far less visible — other half of the equation, and is often where an ethnographer’s true expertise shines… But this is a different topic, so we’ll share more in an upcoming post.

Observation, observation, observation But the insight doesn’t stop with us. Show-and-tell.

PARC

Designresearch. A Miscellany for Anthro/Design Research Geeks: Ethnographic Segmentation in Design Research (I of III) Sampling in Design Research: Toward Ethnographic Segments What people say and what they end up doing is different.

A Miscellany for Anthro/Design Research Geeks: Ethnographic Segmentation in Design Research (I of III)

It’s not just important to speak to them but you got to spend a day in the life of the customer and observe them.” For understanding the customer better, Jain suggests new methods such as ethnographic studies and tools like calculating customer lifecycle value. — Dipayan Baishya, THE ECONOMIC TIMES (India), July 2005. Anthropological research teams are more and more often called upon to produce research results for design teams. Usually, the team has to devise some sort of formal research plan for the client. We were working, recently, for a client like this. Stay tuned! A Miscellany for Anthro/Design Research Geeks: Ethnographic Segmentation in Market Research (II of III) Theoretical SamplingTheoretical sampling often seeks maximum variation rather than a "representative" slice of reality (Miles and Huberman 1994).In other words, anthropologists (or any ethnographers, really) are interested in the systematic study of the contexts surrounding a particular consumer product or business practice.

A Miscellany for Anthro/Design Research Geeks: Ethnographic Segmentation in Market Research (II of III)

They want to flesh out the real-life meanings behind product choice, purchase, and use. What is this meaning business, anyway? Its more than words. Just ask a surrealist. (Or Foucault.) Linguists, who are supposed to know something about meaning, are often asked to explain how one knows what a word means. Next: Toward Ethnographic (contextual) segmentation. Works Cited Part IIMatthew B. Labels: design research, ethnography, methods, sampling. A Miscellany for Anthro/Design Research Geeks: Ethnographic Segmentation in Market Research (III of III) Toward Ethnographic (Contextual) Segments Too often, the client's segmentation scheme reflect normalized abstractions rather than the evolving needs, tastes, and practices of real people.

A Miscellany for Anthro/Design Research Geeks: Ethnographic Segmentation in Market Research (III of III)

For our India mobile phone client we proposed a rather different model. At the end of the day, we wanted more time in the field than the client was willing to support (at least this time). But we think it would have been time well spent. We suggested that our team identify ethnographic segments, drawn from observed patterns of practice and meaning within a particular strategic domain--in this case, the strategic domain was “basic” phone users (people who are buying inexpensive phones). We use male or female gender as a major sub-segment because of the continued importance of gender in structuring consumption in India and elsewhere.

The moral(s) of all this is, or are: • Design researchers don't sample only individual people. Business Segmentation by Michael Richarme. Business Segmentation: Emerging Approaches to More Meaningful Clustersby Michael Richarme Consumer opinion research has a well-established track record, stretching over the past five or six decades.

Business Segmentation by Michael Richarme

Conducting opinion research among businesses, however, is much more problematic. This is particularly evident at the simplest level of analysis, customer segmentation. However, segmentation techniques are evolving, and techniques that were common practice in the recent past are rapidly being supplanted by newer, more meaningful segmentation techniques. The underlying purpose of segmentation is to divide customers into distinct groups, such that marketing messages can be tailored to their specific needs. Describing consumer households in the past was simply a matter of gathering relevant demographic information and performing a cluster analysis. That approach yielded groups of homogeneous consumers who had similar demographic characteristics.

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