Technography / ethnography in the real world

Judith Staig and Rose Tomlins
GfK NOP, United Kingdom


The desire to become a truly 'customer centric' organisation lies at the heart of many company mission statements. The ability to align new product development, positioning and marketing communications with genuine customer needs, motivations and desires is widely held as the way to differentiate brands in an increasingly competitive market place.

Ethnography can play an important role in facilitating greater customer-centricity within organisations. However, the application of ethnographic techniques requires careful thought and consideration. The use of ethnography by full service market research agencies is growing, bringing ethnographic techniques together with more traditional qualitative research practices, but many research buyers – and qualitative researchers – are still quite unfamiliar with ethnography. Like any other methodological approach, ethnography provides a set of tools to be applied where appropriate and relevant. This paper highlights some best practise cases for ethnography, to help both agency and client researchers identify how and when to use ethnographic techniques, and how to get the most from them. We will base our best practise cases on actual projects conducted by GfK NOP.1