CHAPTER 8Primary Data Collection: Observation

Photo illustration of a CCTV camera inside a supermarket monitoring the shoppers.

What is observation research, and how is it used in marketing research? What is ethnography, and why is it so popular? Observation research has exploded on the Internet and social media. Why? Why is online observation research often controversial? What are the machines that can be used in observation research, and what kind of data do they produce? We will answer these questions in Chapter 8.

Nature of Observation Research

Instead of asking people questions, as a survey does, observation research depends on watching what people do. Specifically, observation research can be defined as the systematic process of recording patterns of occurrences or behaviors without normally questioning or communicating with the people involved. (Mystery shopping is an exception.) A marketing researcher using the observation technique witnesses and records events as they occur or compiles evidence from records of past events. The observation may involve watching people or watching phenomena, and it may be conducted by human ...

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