3 Uncommon Methods for Online Ethnography Branding Research

POSTED BY Greg Keating ON Oct 19, 2016 8:04:00 AM

OnlineEthnography.pngIt’s common knowledge that social media and other digital channels more heavily influence customer purchase decisions now than ever before. As the world of social networks and digital technology continues to evolve, brand owners and professionals should adapt their existing research methods and develop new strategies that allow them to best understand the buyer’s decision-making process. By expanding and refining your research skills and tactics, you can position your brand as partners with marketing organizations and social media specialists to discover customer insights that inform specific initiatives.

As was said in a recent article on brandingmagazine.com, a website that offers insights and information about brand management, “Investment in digital channels has increased considerably in recent years but brands are still leaving money on the table. By being more observant and responsive to consumer needs and desires, brands can build far greater engagement that will influence purchasing behavior and return a positive ROI.” With those wise words in mind, look below to read about 3 uncommon methods for digital branding research.

Online Ethnographic Research

Corporate ethnography isn’t just for innovation anymore. It’s central to gaining a full understanding of your customers and your brand itself. The ethnographic work at market research firms now informs functions such as strategy and long-range planning. Ethnography is the branch of anthropology that involves trying to understand how people live their lives. Unlike traditional market researchers, who ask specific, highly practical questions, anthropological researchers visit consumers in their homes or offices to observe and listen in a non-directed way.

Their goal is to see people’s behavior on their terms. While this observational method may appear inefficient, it enlightens researchers about the context in which customers would use a new product and the meaning that product might hold in their lives. High-tech companies have to date employed the lion’s share of corporate ethnographers. But ethnography is so beneficial that it will soon spread widely, helping firms in the CPG industry truly understand customers and adapt to fast-changing markets.

Usability Testing

Usability is one of those crucial elements of a product that we tend to take for granted. When you pick up an object and use it, you often don’t think about the countless hours and immeasurable thought that has gone into making sure that item does what it’s intended purpose is. Oftentimes it is easy to think of usability in web terms. But, before there was web usability testing, there was product usability testing. Today, there are still many firms handling product usability on a contract basis. So, let’s get back to basics for a little bit and understand the benefits of usability testing and what it’s purpose  is.

Usability testing allows designers to improve upon their design. If someone is interacting with a product or package in a way that is unanticipated, but could contribute to the improvement of the product, putting that through usability testing is a great way to discover these little changes or improvements. After the creation of a product or package, it is very important to verify that when the item  goes through human interaction. It is often crucial  to test the usability of a product among people of different ages, genders and demographics as well.

Focus Group Testing

A focus group is the meeting of a small group of individuals who are guided through a discussion by a trained moderator. The goal of the focus group is to get beyond superficial answers and uncover insights on consumer attitudes and behavior. Almost every major corporation uses focus groups to conduct qualitative research. The digital world isn’t left out of the focus group fun, either. Not only are focus groups useful for learning more about your customers, but the Internet has made it easier than ever to conduct focus groups.

That same purpose extends to digital marketing as well. Except instead of getting your customers’ feedback on your new product, you’re learning more about who they are and what they need and want. You’re getting to know your customers, and if there is one rule for effective online content creation, it’s that you must know your customers. That’s where the focus groups come in.  A focus group allows you to collect that qualitative data and ask those deeper questions that get to the heart of why your customers feel and behave the way they do. Not only can focus groups help you make your products more appealing to consumers, they can help you improve your content strategy. 

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