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Why Marketers Need Ethnographic Research

Dave Friedman of Avenue A | Razorfish is one of the few people from a major ad agency that has written about the value of ethnographic research. In a recent column for Chief Marketer he shared the following perspective. Besides, the practical application of Ethnography is relatively unknown to technology sector marketing practitioners.

In contrast, harnessing the fundamental skills of consumer observation and storytelling are key aspects of the 'scenario design' approach that we utilize to perform needs-based customer segmentation here at GeoActive Group USA.
When marketers contemplate the behavior of online consumers, many focus on determining what consumers are doing, paying little attention to 'why' they might be doing it. Unfortunately, the answers to many online problems cannot be found through analytics. Though analytics is great for identifying problems in technology or site design and the way consumers interact with these tools, it cannot help you understand the forces driving online consumer behavior, which should be a key consideration prior to designing any kind of Website or application.

This is one of many instances where marketers can extract methodology from a long-established textbook marketing tactic that has proven its effectiveness again and again in the offline world: ethnographic research. Although underutilized by marketers, ethnographic research conducted offline can go a long way to explain or predict consumer behavior in any setting, including the Internet.

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