Understand your market via ethnography

One of the most effective ways to understand your target market, such as the creatives, is to participate, as defined by ‘zooming’ in the previous entry.

Another valuable methodology that’s related is to practice ethnography, which is probably inclusive of zooming.

Ethnography is defined as “the branch of anthropology that deals with the scientific description of specific human cultures,” a more qualitative approach to understanding culture where “the purpose is to provide a detailed, in-depth description of everyday life and practice.”

A great article in Fast Company magazine, Every Move You Make, will give you a much better idea of how to apply this science as an art in the business world. It essentially comes down to playing Jane Goodall.

It’s probably a lot easier and much more effective to zoom, but if not, then ethnograph – visit a place with CoolTown principles and just watch, observe, take notes and absorb specific people over several hours. The nice thing for me is that by living and working in a place like Adams Morgan, I’m naturally zooming and ethnographing by default.

I’d still like to zoom and ethnograph a little in Budapest however – stay tuned.

  • Neil,

    I’m a strong advocate for applying an ethnographic market assessment to any product development challenge, but particularly within the technology sector — where we’re more prone to be overly product-centric.

    We know that traditional market segmentation methodology is very ineffective. In contrast, grouping people by a specific practical task that they use their mobile phones for (as an example) can help marketers develop a whole different perspective — compared to grouping people by their age or another less meaningful cluster.