What is ethnography?• Ethnography is a branch of anthropology which studies cultures, and culture, through the experiences of individuals in everyday life.• At its heart is the idea of ‘deep hanging out’ – the idea that to understand a culture you have to immerse yourself in the experience; by being there and doing it.• Its commercial value is now well established for gaining a deep-rooted understanding of the role and value of a brand, service or product experience in the everyday world of the consumer.
Lots of people are doing it...• William Grant & Sons • Public Sector• Bacardi Martini – HMRC• Electrolux – Participle (Social Enterprise) – The Work Foundation• Unilever – Local Government Social• Egg Services• ZOPA.com – No.10 Downing Street• Lloyds TSB • Creative Agencies• E-ON – Quickheart Ltd• M&S Money – Imagination• HBOS – Mother/Naked• Orange – Tequila• Vodafone – Michael Wolff• Mflow.com • Research Agencies• National Rail Enquiries – Intrepid Consultants• Boots plc – GfK – Spinach
The ethnographer’s eye• Shift from viewing consumption as the satisfaction of needs to the search for meaning.• “Product is neutral; usage is social” (Mary Douglas – The World of Goods)• Studying the ‘social life of things’ reveals the implicit meanings and cultural ‘common sense’ of the objects and transactions of everyday life.
Research Methodologies• Participant observation – ‘deep hanging out’ in everyday life, observing people using money and making decisions about money.• Long interviews – free flow conversations• Creative consumer workshops – personal perspectives of people whose job it is to have a point of view on the world.• Focus groups – provocative stimulus to get beneath ‘public’ perceptions and tap into subjective insights.
The value of ‘things’ Functional (What I need) Conventional Qualitative Approaches Focus of ethnography Cultural Emotional(Why is it valuable to me?) (What I want to feel)
Why the difference between Needs and Meaning is important: Nestlé believed that they had For Starbucks, the cup of coffeeextracted maximum value from a itself is only one small part of the cup of coffee, focussing on the deal. The value of the experience consumer “need” of excellent is created by the cultural meaning product delivery. it creates in a consumer’s life. ¢ 8 per cup $4 per cup
From object to thing socialisation Object= ‘Thing’’= -Technology -Social meaning ritualization-Rational function -Social practices -cost - Social capital domesticationMeaning = neutral Meaning = Situational Usage = Social Shift from looking at what a product ‘does’ to what meaning it ‘creates’
A place to create your world of money? Growth/fluidity Traditional Entrepreneurs Lifestyle Entrepreneurs Everyday Entrepreneurs Tangible/Place subjectiveobjective Human/Social Control/Confidence Real alternative Domestic Entrepreneurs Personal Entrepreneurs Surplus/Stability
Monkey ShoulderThe first ethnographically-inspired whisky
A ‘new world’ Whisky• Ethnographic Insight – ‘Whisky is lacks authentic social currency in public drinking occasions’• Semiotic Insight – Desire for “remix” of traditional and modern styles rather than wholesale ‘reinvention’.• Outcome – Successful launch with acceptance by both the whisky and style establishment (Both Kate Moss and Noel Gallagher profess to enjoying Monkey Shoulder!).
Packaging Fabric Conditioner as a meaningful cultural experience
From needs to meaning• Ethnographic Insight – Fabric conditioner creates and maintains social relations and values of ‘home’ and ‘motherhood’• Semiotic Insight – Generous proportions emphasise role of FC as ‘gift’ for the home.
A nudge in the right direction...• Ethnographic insight avoids research being blinkered by internal cultural ‘truths’ and preconceptions.• It helps a business understand where it fits in the everyday life of the consumer (and hence how it is valued in reality).• Ethnography expands the scope of analysis of customers from rational investigation needs to more subjective and fuzzy exploration of context and motivation.
Bruce Davis Freemarketbruce@deep-hanging-out.comwww.oikonomics.typepad.com +447747 864472
Recommended reading• Grant McCraken – Chief Culture Officer (latest book) – Culture and Consumption (I & II) – The Long Interview• Zygmunt Bauman – What chance for ethics in a world of consumers? – The “Liquid Modernity” Series – Liquid Life, Liquid Love etc• Viviana Zelizer – The Social Meaning of Money – The Purchase of Intimacy• Keith Hart – The Memory Bank