About the research we do
The user and consumer research we do is grounded in ethnography and social anthropology. As trained social anthropologists we know that your customers' social behaviours are largely invisible to untrained eyes. But culture is important because it governs so much of our behaviours and practices without us even realising. As such, it often gets overlooked, meaning businesses miss key opportunities.
Our research is done with people in their natural setting such as their home or workplace — because no one acts naturally if they are treated like a lab rat. And it's those natural behaviours — uncovered using observation, interaction, and structured interviews — that enable us to explore and uncover how your customers see and experience the world.
By understanding your customer's world — the meanings people attribute to things, their beliefs and values, and ways of doing things — we can help you design products and services your customers will actually want and need.
Because when you understand why people do what they do (or don't do) — rather than what they say they do — you can design your products and services to support those behaviours. That’s a strong competitive advantage right there, isn't it?
Case study: Coffee cups and sustainability
We did a small research project to understand Bristol students' behaviour around single-use coffee cups. Bristol is the birth-place of Extinction Rebellion and last year a Bristol-based cafe chain refused to sell coffee in disposable cups. However, we discovered through a series of interviews that while students wanted to be 'seen as environmentally conscious', money, accessibility and convenience are key barriers to using multi-use cups. We identified several key issues that would help students transition to reusable cups.
What is social anthropology and ethnography?
Social anthropology is the study of the social behaviour of human groups. It is a social science that seeks to understand people's behaviour within the social context and looks at the cultural beliefs and practices that underpin what people do. Anthropology gets underneath the social surface and makes visible that which is largely invisible.
The research method that we use is called ethnographic research, which tends to get shortened to ethnography. Ethnographic research is a powerful and proven way to uncover customer insights, drive innovation, and inform business strategy.
Why is ethnographic research so powerful?
"If you ask people what their problems are, they'll tell you what they think they are. But if you watch them you realise there are other problems that they've learned to work around. They've got used to the way they do things, so you need to look underneath their stated needs."
Ethnographic research is a way of getting really close to your customers — you’ll see into their lives in a way that you will find fascinating (and possibly addictive!) — up close your customers will become ‘real’ people right before your eyes. It's powerful and effective because it:
- Provides deep insights into how people behave in a way that few other research methods can – which is why it’s so highly regarded by companies such as Intel, Microsoft, Proctor and Gamble, Google, and Miele.
- Dispels assumptions about how people use things versus the actual lived experience of those people.
- Highlights the contradictions between what people say they do and what they actually do.
- Immerses you in your customers' worlds and lives and reveals pain points, frustrations, and unmet needs – all of which can be used to bring unique product and service innovations to market that puts you ahead of your competition.
Case study: User research minus the hefty bill
Fintech start-up, LOQBOX, knew they needed to get to know their customers better. However, recognising they lacked the in-house expertise to do user research and, as a small but growing start-up, couldn’t afford to pay an outside agency, we came up with a more affordable option: we would teach them to do the research, take them through our process step-by-step, so that in the future they can do it themselves.
When should ethnographic research be done?
Ideally, ethnographic research should be done before design of the product or service begins. In design thinking, it is conducted in the Empathize stage with design concepts emerging once the analysis and dissemination of the ethnographic findings are complete.
However, this type of research can be done any time you want to understand your customers more deeply and uncover unmet and unexpressed needs.
Case study: Marketing made more powerful
Engaging customers and increasing brand loyalty is achieved through building deeper connections with your target audience. By referencing cultural values and societal expectations, you can make your brand resonate much more deeply with your target audience and increase customer spend. We show you how using a real example of a direct marketing campaign by a British supermarket.
By deeply understanding your customers or users, their pain points and unmet needs, you will give yourself the confidence — through research-based insights — that your products and services are hitting the spot in terms of what your customers actually want.
If your business wants research-based insights that will help you create innovative products and services, contact Mundy & Anson today >