3. Become an Ethnographer

“You can observe a lot just by watching.”

Yogi Berra

In the past, companies relied heavily on focus groups to conduct marketing research. They brought consumers to their offices, and they asked them for extensive feedback on new products and services before going to market. Today, many firms have shifted their approach, relying less on focus groups and much more on direct observation of how consumers behave in their natural environments—in their homes, workplaces, automobiles, and the like. For example, consider Kimberly Clark, producer of the Huggies brand of diapers and related baby-care products. The firm’s researchers have learned a great deal by watching many parents changing their babies. During one study, ...

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