Home > Ethnography > Iterative Processes: Ethnographic Imperative

Iterative Processes: Ethnographic Imperative

We are wrapping up a project for a client in the automotive industry. During our collaborative analysis we discovered some pretty fantastic insights around generations, communication and technology, precisely what we had been studying a couple months earlier during ERI’s demonstration project.

During the demonstration project we learned A LOT about how different generations communicate and use technology, things that were reinforced and highlighted during this automotive study.


It reminded me that for us, for our projects, iteration is the name of game. When we do a project we develop business objectives and determine project scope with our client for that particular project. And while we focus our data collection to answer questions relevant to our topic of study, it’s our experience with past projects that helps us quickly discover our data points. And regardless of the industry–health care, consumer goods, business to business–our experience observing and understanding the world around us comes in handy in virtually any setting.

Take Melinda. She’s been doing this work for more than 15 years and has visited THOUSANDS of households [this is just households, not hospitals, clinics and other business settings, which she has visited too]. When you spend that much time with that many people and see that many households, you can quickly ascertain the inner-workings of a situation and determine what’s different. Talk about a time-savings!

That’s the beauty of ethnography. Using ethnography as an approach to understanding, we’re not limited to studying just toilet paper or just diabetes or just cars. We’re learning and relearning over and over, in every setting, with every individual, with every family and in every household.

We don’t stray from our data, that is, make broad-sweeping assertions we can’t support with data from the project at-hand. But how great is it for our clients that we can start that much closer to insight based on everything we accumulate over time about consumer attitudes and behavior?

That’s pretty cool.

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Categories: Ethnography
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