Applied / Events / Public / Updates

Ethnography and Market Research

On February 12th, 2016, Dr. Barbara McGrath delivered a talk entitled Ethnography and Market Research as part of the 2nd Annual Ethnography Lab Speaker Series discussing the link between ethnography and market research. She has kindly given us permission to share her talk here.


More than a decade ago, the ethnographic method started to get noticed in the field of market research. Market research is research with a specific purpose: To help companies better understand their current and prospective customers, to inform the design of new products or services and to improve the marketing of existing ones. ‘Ethnography’ or ‘anthropology’ has come to be known as a qualitative research tool that can give deeper insights than standard qualitative methods such as focus group discussions. However, the use of ethnography has remained limited, because of its time-and-cost-intensive nature. More recently, a new form of ‘ethnography without an observer’, also known as self-ethnography, has become popular.

In this video, Dr. Barbara McGrath explains the methods of ethnography and self-ethnography in the market research context, their benefits and drawbacks, compared to other market research tools, and the types of market research questions where ethnography can be most useful. In addition to discussing ethnography as a method, she also touches on employment opportunities for anthropologists in the market research field.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s