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What Is Consumer Ethnography / Virtual Ethnography

By Anthony Galima, Director, Business Anthropology Originally published on LinkedIn:

Consumer Ethnography also called “virtual ethnography” helps corporations gain a deeper understanding of consumer behaviors—specifically what perceptions, attitudes, and beliefs drive consumer decisions and calls to action. (Business Anthropology, Inc.)

Ethnography “observes” and “studies” people in their natural environments and everyday life. In the current technological landscape, the amount of information users consciously and unconsciously provide is astounding taking “observational data collection” to new echelons.

What is interesting is: for the first time ever corporations have the ability to “observe” intimate aspects of consumers they would have otherwise never been privy to/able to observe, collect, study, and synthesize. This practical and nonintrusive methodology for conducting ethnographic marketing research does not disrupt the consumer. In fact, with videos and new media shared by participants, coupled with written commentary, surveys, hashtag challenges, contests, and giveaways -- ALL provide in depth personal “character” insights.

Consumer Ethnography in the realm of Internet Technology gives you the ability to track, monitor, and study consumers’ daily routines over long periods of time than what was practical and achievable “in the field”/with traditional marketing techniques.

Online patterns and behaviors within environments built entirely of software featuring rewarding and addictive qualities (i.e. Social Networks and APPS) foster high levels of self-disclosure. Internet users are freely expressing themselves all the time; giving detailed descriptions of their routines, thoughts, feelings, and experiences that they believe are most relevant to explaining their usage and purchasing decisions. Even those who remain silent and share nothing, much can be learned about them just by their movements within these pieces of software/content management delivery systems.

Online ethnography studies once implemented can be left to run indefinitely. Each participant/consumer monitored can be studied whenever they are using a device connected to the Internet / WiFi.

Within Consumer Ethnography is “qualitative research models.” The qualitative research methodology can be applied within and to any situation in an effort to understand consumer motivations and their relationship with a brand/product in a variety of settings and applications. Some qualitative research can ensure successful concept development and refinement, to product and service development and refinement.

Consumer Ethnography will prove to be invaluable when it comes to discovering our “new normal” and understanding consumer behaviors, trends, attitudes, and shifts in a post CoronaVirus world.

One platform that will assist corporations and consumer ethnographers greatly is the "Google My Business" platform. To learn more check out: "Google My Business" To Get Going Again and What Is Google My Business: A Brief and Simplistic Overview.

If you would like to learn more about Consumer Ethnography or have a corporation and wish for the very best in the business to help you with this undertaking; contact Business Anthropology's Educators and Experts today.

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