Ethnographic/Observational Research

We visit customers all the time, but with AMS we learned more in one project than in all the years we’d been doing customer visits. Visiting customers and conducting ethnography was a humbling experience for us all, and we developed a better product because of it.
Director of Product Development, Industrial Products Company

As ethnography pioneer and anthropologist Margaret Mead said, “What people say, what people do, and what they say they do are entirely different things.”

Ethnographic or observational research goes beyond what people say to reveal latent, unspoken needs that customers might not even realize they have. It is an effective way to examine existing products and processes, as well as for refining product concepts and prototypes to maximize product-market fit. It demonstrates how customers use your products and services in a real-world context, possibly in ways you never imagined.

The AMS Difference

In ethnographic research we visit your customers using your products in context, whether it’s on a job site, in an operating room, on the factory floor or in their offices. Utilizing our expert observational, interviewing and reporting techniques, we establish a comprehensive understanding of how people use your product or service in its actual environment, including identifying workarounds to overcome problems and potential uses of the product or service that were unknown or not what you had originally intended.

Our process typically involves a live interaction in the natural environment where the product is in use. We observe usage of the product and engage in an interview along the way. The process is typically photographed or video-recorded for later analysis. In some situations, mobile ethnography will take the place of a live interaction. In this instance, people will use a mobile camera to videotape themselves using the product for us to review and analyze later.

  • Our systematic approach takes you from understanding to actionable insight.
  • What’s working for customers, and what’s not? What obstacles do they encounter?
  • How do they feel about the product or service experience?
  • Do customers use your product alone or with others? In what environment? Under what circumstances? How do these conditions impact the design?
  • What are the insights we can only uncover through observations?

The End Result

We deliver reports that tell a compelling and actionable story, enabling cross-functional teams to see and hear directly from customers. Our multi-media reports bring data to life, while providing clear recommendations for acting on the results.

By studying the customer using your product in context, ethnography helps you optimize existing products, as well as create new product concepts and prototypes that meet customer needs and succeed in the marketplace.

Unlock the power of ethnography for product and service design. Contact Us

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