Ethnographic Research | Our Services | Ruby Cha Cha

Ethnographic Research


The key to designing innovative products and communications campaigns is understanding how consumers behave when it comes to your product or your category. Uncovering how consumers behave is however not as straight forward as it is may seem.

Asking consumers to tell us directly how they behave can often prove to be ineffective. People may not always be willing to share what they did, or even recall what they did. And often, even if they are willing to, they may not remember perfectly or even inflate certain behaviours or deflate others to fit into norms of society. Sometimes the behaviours researchers are interested in studying may even be hard for the respondent to report. For instance, acknowledging the number of drinks people have or the number of cigarettes they smoke could be an acknowledgement of a problem.

Some behaviours may be so ingrained that the respondents themselves fail to take note or do it on autopilot.

Ethnography helps circumvent the failings of relying on reported behaviour, allowing the researcher to get to the crux of what people actually do. Ethnography involves observing firsthand how people behave within their natural environment where they are comfortable, and those behaviours are not contrived. In doing so, it helps bring to surface behaviours or biases consumers themselves may not realise or admit.

An ethnographic approach can be applied wherever an understanding of consumer behaviour is required. This could include:

  • Understanding how consumers actually use a product.
  • How they shop an aisle.
  • How much they consume.
  • How they interact with different technology.

Ethnographic research can help you decide how your product should be packaged by observing how people shop, where they use them, or even how people stack their pantries. It can help with designing new products by exploring how consumers use them and the features or functionality they rely upon. Ethnography can also be used when researching sensitive topics where consumers are likely to provide a response they think is socially acceptable. For example, when studying how and when people consume unhealthy foods.

At Ruby Cha Cha, we have a range of flexible tools to conduct ethnographic research that can be tailored to each client’s unique requirements. These may include:

  • Conducting accompanied shop-alongs. We go on shopping mission with respondents to observe what they are actually doing instore, how they shop a category, how they interact with products and the shelves, and how they choose one product over another.
  • Using online communities or digital diaries. When it's important to observe behaviour over time we use online communities or digital diaries, where we get respondents to video themselves and make entries each time they do something – for example, eat fast food or drink spirits. The benefit of using technology to conduct ethnographic research means that we can reach participants wherever they may be, at any point in the day, and can ask them to report on what they are doing or get them to participate in tasks where they inflate, reduce, or even stop consuming a product – and observe how they react.
Through ethnography, we are able to test beliefs about how consumers behave and in doing so, bridge the gap between what you think your consumers do and what they actually do. It allows us to delve into your consumers’ lives and enables you to make both strategic and tactical decisions, based on accurate research findings.

Get in touch with Ruby Cha Cha

Get in touch with Ruby Cha Cha