Anthropologists know a thing or two about how people behave. They know it can be very informative to just observe people, and not ask questions. Observing people is something we researchers devote ourselves to as well and, as business-to-business market researchers, we are experts at observing behaviors in businesses.
Observation is one of the oldest tools in the market researcher’s toolkit. During the Second World War, the company “Mass Observation” was set up with the responsibility of establishing the mood of the British population using specialist observers. We use the same tools today in our b2b ethnography research to establish how people carry out various aspects of their work.
What is involved?
While it isn’t always easy to observe somebody in a business environment, we do not need many observations to establish behaviors. Our small and specialist b2b ethnography research team is adept at ‘simply melting into the background.’ We can glean a lot from watching for just a short period of time.
Case study: Managing in-store experience
Our client sells power tools and accessories and wanted to know how the in-store experience influenced their customers at the point of purchase.
What we did
We recruited respondents from a cross-section of tool users – from heavy DIYers to a variety of tradespeople – asking them to take us to an outlet where they would typically buy a power tool. The respondents talked us through their emotions and behavior while we observed. We also filmed their stream of consciousness as they made their choices in the stores.
We do not leave emotions at home when we come to work; where products are displayed in-store has a big effect on the amount of interest customers take in them; packaging is important and is the thing people check out first during their decision making process. We watched people being eager to hold the physical products and sometimes being frustrated because there were none available for them to try out. These findings influenced the way our client went on to manage the in-store experience.