How ethnography helps product design


Published on

Slides from my lecture to an MBA marketing class at the Schulich School of Business, York University

Published in: Design
  • 'Verstehen' is the sociological term for 'understanding.' Deep understanding of a product's eventual
    'world' will help you design products and services that are culturally meaningful.
    Are you sure you want to  Yes  No
    Your message goes here
  • Product designers often see the objects they design as singular, isolated objects. They will focus on the grain of the wood, for example, or the shape of the hammer's head. These are all important, but they are not the 'world' where the product will eventually live.

    This hampers a product designer's ability to think creatively about what they're designing.

    In this presentation, I argue that a 'hammer' lives in its own world, full of people, other hammers, weather, buildings and all kinds of 'involvements and attachments.'

    Ethnography helps us understand what that world is about. It uncovers the hammer's 'social network,' as it were.
    Are you sure you want to  Yes  No
    Your message goes here
No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

How ethnography helps product design

  1. 1. Open to New Worlds: Product Development, Ethnography, and Creativity<br />Guest Lecture MKT6440<br />Schulich School of Business<br />
  2. 2.
  3. 3.
  4. 4. Copernicus Consulting is a social research company that specializes in uncovering social insights, creating design and marketing strategies, and aligning organizations to realize those strategies.<br />
  5. 5. Understanding Social Context<br />
  6. 6. What is ethnography?<br />A method, a product<br />Immersive<br />Extended period of time<br />Often focused on a particular culture<br />
  7. 7. Ethnography is observing<br />Denver, CO: Scooters in local supermarket: represents shoppers’ need to avoid walking while shopping<br />Toronto, Ontario: Intentional manipulation of corporate logo: symbolizes resistance.<br />
  8. 8. Ethnography is interviewing<br />Or in a “foreign” culture<br />Can happen in a workplace “culture”<br />Or in a domestic “culture”<br />Photo Courtesy of Underwhelmer, Flickr<br />
  9. 9. Case studies<br />Corporate Ethnography<br />Employs 24 full-time ethnographers who helped design a computer with a dust filter and runs off a car battery for use in India<br />Ethnography in Asia and Africa lead to “image only” cell phone design, multiple address books, and long battery life<br />Researched how consumers in developing countries deal with diabetes. Uncovered unmet needs in diabetes treatment.<br />
  10. 10. Case Study: Prada shopping<br />Corporate Ethnography<br />Embedded RFID tags in clothes so shoppers can easily find complete outfits<br />Created frosted glass doors for changing rooms that turn to windows at the touch of a button<br />Mirrors have a 5-second delay allowing shoppers to see the view from behind<br />
  11. 11. Why does ethnography help companies innovate?<br />“Ethnography may start by exploring the experience of those directly involved in the institutional setting, but they are not the object of investigation. It is the aspects of the institutions relevant to the people's experience, not the people themselves, that constitute the inquiry.”<br />Smith, Dorothy. 2005. Institutional Ethnography: A Sociology for People. New York: Altamira.<br />We learn how people interact with our business, our brand, and our bureaucracy, from their point of view.<br />
  12. 12. Corporate Ethnography Step-by-Step<br />
  13. 13. Developing a better service<br />
  14. 14. What new product would you develop?<br />Overall customer satisfaction rose<br />Yet loyalty did not increase…why?<br />
  15. 15. What you learn from ethnography<br />
  16. 16. What you can learn from ethnography<br />
  17. 17. Sam Ladner, PhD<br />Copernicus Consulting<br /><br /><br />@sladner<br />