Monday, February 17, 2014

Ethnographic Research for Marketing

Genevieve Bell plays a vital role in Intel's long-term strategy and marketing plans. It's all about understanding people.

As director of user experience research, Bell and dozens of her researchers fan out across the planet to observe and question consumers about their use of tech gadgets, in everyday situations. She even has her own page and video on the Intel website.

Recently, Bell told the New York Times about her role at Intel:
My mandate at Intel has always been to bring the stories of everyone outside the building inside the building — and make them count. You have to understand people to build the next generation of technology.
Ethnographic marketing research is on the rise, as companies like Intel, Procter & Gamble, Whirlpool, Diageo, and Ford strive to learn much more about their consumers--what they actually do, what they actually like, how they actually use products at home or in out-of-home circumstances, and what motivates them to choose and use one product rather than another. Often, consumers can't identify, articulate, or accurately describe what they do or want--yet ethnographic researchers may identify important clues through observation and follow-up questions.

Ford hired ethnographic researchers in the 1990s to discover why consumers weren't connecting with the new Mustang's power and styling. Riding along with consumers, the researchers learned that drivers sensed a car's power in many ways, through feeling the engine's rumble, listening to its sound, and viewing the design as an elemental cue to power and speed.

Based on these insights, Ford redesigned the Mustang to effectively convey the positioning of power and speed. According to a Ford design executive: "This vehicle has that sense of motion, even when it’s standing still. It captures your eye from 50 feet away — it’s instantly recognizable as a Mustang."

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