The term “ethnography” has been widely associated with the marketing research industry in determine consumer behavior and preferences. It involves qualitative research into a particular human society, as well as the customs of individual peoples or cultures. The purpose of qualitative research in this case, as opposed to quantitative research, is to provide a full account of everyday life, behavior and practices of a particular society, instead of statistical data. The ethnographer then interprets the accounts gathered and attempts to explain these findings.
Traditional ethnography involves fieldwork, and requires the researcher to immerse themselves in the community and reside among the people under study for over a year. Through this method, the researcher is able to glean important information from members of a particular social group or human society on many aspects of the culture and customs of that group.
In marketing research, ethnography is invaluable for the information and insight it provides in brand management and marketing. It helps businesses understand how people make use of products and services.
Mobile qualitative research when applied to mobile ethnography is a faster, more efficient way of securing data, which may take years to obtain when utilizing traditional ethnography methods. When it comes to time and context, mobile ethnography provides real-time descriptions, and allows researchers to experience consumer’s lives as they happen without actually having to be there. Whereas traditional ethnography requires person-to-person interaction, mobile ethnography gives a window into the lives of consumer even from the other side of the world.
Because of their characteristics, mobile devices, when used in ethnography, may provide clearer and specific insight, backed by valid socio-cultural data on a particular group of people. One of its obvious advantages is the accumulation of different types of qualitative data in a relatively shorter amount of time.
Mobile phones are handy and most people carry them on their persons, so the reactions and observations can be sent in an instant. The experiences which are relayed have a context.
Added to this are the other capabilities of mobile devices. Most mobile phones come with cameras and video-recording, so it isn’t difficult to imagine a respondent, for example, a person cooking dinner, taking a picture of all the products he or she is using. The photos and real-time delivery will enhance the mobile research, providing an authentic consumer experience, and in turn, provide the researcher with an understanding of consumer motivation and behavior.