Ethnography in Market Research


On the 5th February 2009, Joy Liuzzo posted a blog on Mobile Ethnography Research. Her blog outlined InsightExpress’ recent research study amongst consumers aged 18 years and older and their barbecue preferences.

The objectives:

  • Understanding behaviours around barbecuing;
  • Current condiment usage; and
  • Condiments consumers currently keep in their homes.

The methodology:

  • To quantify consumer attitudes and behaviors around barbecuing, respondents completed an online survey. Whilst to obtain a deeper understanding of the condiments consumers kept in their homes, ethnographic techniques were employed. Respondents were asked to take a picture of the condiments in their fridge using a mobile phone camera.

The results:

  • The online survey showed that hamburgers, steaks and chicken are the most popular items to barbecue in the United States. Among the many choices of condiments, BBQ sauce, marinade, and ketchup are the most preferred when barbecuing.
  • Interestingly enough, the results of the ethnography analysis told a slightly different story. Based upon the photographs submitted [header image], ketchup is more prevalent than BBQ sauce. This indicates that although BBQ sauce is important to barbecuing, it is not a condiment that is kept in the house year round.


Using the Mobile Ethnography application, researchers are able to see firsthand consumer behaviors without the impact of response bias or memory lapse.