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Ethnographic research is simply taking a deeper look at what drives your customers thinking, their behaviors, and influences their decisions.
This type of in-depth research is recommended when a company is either struggling with growth, they are experiencing service issues that are difficult to correct, or simply trying to introduce new products to the market and want to know if they will be successful before a major investment is made.
Ethnographic mystery shopping involves “living in the shoes” of the customer. Using an online journal, or diary keeping process consumers will share their emotions, behaviors, and decision factors as they visit your place of business , search your website, make phone calls , or try your products. This online journal process is simply an online bulletin board focus group. (i.e. BBFG)
This can include a wide range of information gathering such as what they purchased, why they chose to purchase what they did, how they felt about the services they received, their perception of the quality of products etc. and /or how each of these elements contrasts with their visits to your competitors. This can also include their perception of new items you are introducing to the market and how successful these products may be.
This form of market research gives you greater geographic reach and longer, more in-depth transcripts than any other qualitative methodology, and allows you to conduct more research in less time. BBFG's are highly involved discussions that unfold over extended time frames. Participants love the convenience and clients love the depth of information they receive.
With traditional face-to-face focus groups, participants are limited to specific geographic areas – with BBFG's, consumers and clients can participate from anywhere around the world. BBFG's take advantage of threaded ‘Bulletin Board' technology that is commonly used in online discussion groups. Bulletin Board participants log in at various times and from locations that are convenient to them, answering questions posted by the moderator while reading and responding to the other participants' comments. All of the discussion is visible onscreen to the client observers in a “virtual backroom”. A BBFG typically takes place over a 3-5 day period – with respondents participating 2-3 times each day.
Projects take on a whole new level of interactivity with BBFG's. With the ability to embed video and other multimedia with the click of a button, this media allows researchers to tap into the rich world of user-generated content and self-ethnographic activities. Projects can include a vast array of multimedia stimuli that keep participants engaged throughout the study.