Ethnography: Observing consumer behaviours

Ethnography is an observational practice with roots in anthropology. Ethnographers spend an extended period in a person’s life, accompanying them and following their schedule for the day.

Not only does ethnography look at specific behaviour, but also the context of that behaviour. It examines people’s relationships with others, their environment, their emotions, and their culture – ingrained attitudes that greatly influence how they think and behave.

Ethnography examines what people do alongside what they say. Together, this paints a holistic picture of people’s lives. Using trained ethnographers in the field is key to the methodology – for empathy, to direct the flow of the interaction, and to capture data that is important to the client.

Video is used to document fieldwork, for analysis and to report on findings.

What can it deliver?

  • Deep, emotional understanding of individuals and social groups
  • Evidence of behaviour and attitudes
  • Foundational, cultural understanding
  • Opportunities and stimulus for innovation
  • Unanticipated findings and areas for further exploration
  • Answers to the unarticulated and the hard-to-articulate
  • In-the-moment behaviour and response, and the ‘why’ behind it
  • Impactful and engaging film

Who do I contact?

Ipsos Ethnography Centre of Excellence
Oliver Sweet

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More about Ipsos Ethnography Centre of Excellence (ECE)

Ipsos ECE is an award-winning, specialist group of ethnographers, market researchers, film-makers and anthropologists. They offer an unfiltered view of people, their behaviours and the cultures in which they live.

Ipsos ECE identifies previously unseen opportunities by looking at people’s worlds in a new way and communicating findings through ethnographic film.

Case Studies

Psoriasis: a global ethnographic study of the patient experience

Understanding the impact of being financially ‘underserved’

Public Health England: One You

Mars: Petcare in Brazil