Ethnography takes research out of the lab to observe individuals behave in their natural environment. The great advantage of this method is the possibility to study consumers’ actual needs, as opposed to self-reported wants that can be biased.

When to use it

As a fully immersive, `live and work’ approach, ethnography can take longer and cost more than interviews or survey. However it is a critical tool to :
– Uncover behaviors and habits that can’t be self-reported.
– Understand how, why and when customers use a product and the role that it plays in their life.
– Investigate product design issues and pain points.

Research frame

Ethnographic research can take the form of:
– On-site observation (wherever the consumer uses the product )
– In-home observations (where the consumer lives)
– Interactive sessions / depth-interviews
– Video or picture diary


  1. Planning : Frame recommendation
  2. Preparation : Researcher selection (in-house or outsourced), participants recruitment.
  3. Field work
  4. Workshop : We present the key findings to the client and define together a framework for interpretation
  5. Report : Interpretation and strategic recommendations

Best for:

New product / Business idea generation
Consumer lifestyle & Values research
Consumer needs assessment
Product pain points study