Ethnographical interpretation of consumer behavior

Employing the Behavioral Perspective Model

Authored by: Paul M. W. Hackett

The Routledge Companion to Consumer Behavior Analysis

Print publication date:  September  2015
Online publication date:  August  2015

Print ISBN: 9780415729925
eBook ISBN: 9781315850696
Adobe ISBN: 9781317913467


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For many years prior to its incorporation within the market research industry, ethnography existed primarily within academia. The ethnographic research modus operandi, in its incarnation as consumer ethnography, filled a lacuna in consumer research by focusing upon the behavior of individuals or social groups situated where products and services are purchased and used. Consumer ethnography may be conceived as either a distinct discipline involving long-term participant observation or as a series of qualitative research techniques. Both formulations yield potentially rich understanding and insight in regard to consumers and their product and service purchasing/usage behaviors within the setting of their lived choices. However, a caveat must be issued as consumer ethnography faces the danger of producing fragmented and disparate insights that may be difficult to bring together to answer either theoretical or applied questions. Due to ethnographic research studies often being piecemeal and theoretically disjointed or bereft, this danger is most aggressive when researchers are attempting to amalgamate qualitative approaches within the specific auspices of understanding consumer behavior. Consequently, it may be argued that consumer ethnography is an approach, or series of techniques and methods, in need of a theoretical framework within which research design, techniques and findings may be assembled to reveal the deep insight which it is possible to garner through qualitative research.

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