Thursday, January 25, 2018

Research Methodology Spotlight: Show & Tell Ethnographies

The insights industry has long been aware of the power and richness of in-person ethnographic research.  However, with compressed timelines and tight budgets, ethnographies can often be difficult to execute.  As an alternative to in-person ethnographies, in recent years, the qualitative team at Accelerant Research has been called on, more and more, to conduct what we call Show & Tell Ethnographies, and with great success.  Instead of sending an interviewer, observers, and videographer to a participant’s home or place of business, we rely on the ubiquity of webcam-based communications and the mobility of smartphones and tablets to enable participants to show us their interactions with a given product category or subject matter while telling us about their experiences during a live one-on-one webcam interview.

The sky is the limit with these types of studies, but here are some recent examples that we have successfully conducted:
  • Consumers receiving delivery of, unboxing, and setting up new smart home devices, providing our moderator with a play-by-play description along the way.
  • Interviews for a pasta company, where we were able to observe and discuss grocery shopping, meal preparation, consumption, and cleanup of families’ dinnertime.
  • Retailer shop-alongs, sending individual participants on shopping excursions armed only with their smartphone, without the intrusiveness of a camera crew and moderator tagging along.
  • UX testing of a new mobile app, leveraging screen-sharing during webcam interviews.
  • Jobsite interviews among general contractors to evaluate power tools, allowing the research team to avoid the logistical challenges and potential dangers of being in-person on a working construction site.
In each of these cases, we were able to save a considerable amount of budget and time requirements, and provide an additional level of robustness to the research that couldn’t be otherwise achieved with telephone interviews or bulletin board methodologies.  We also are able to live-stream these interviews to enable client observers to watch, in real-time, and provide in-the-moment feedback as if they were attending in-person.

We invite you to contact us for more information about these powerful Show & Tell Ethnographic interviews.  Simply give us a call (704-206-8500) or send us an email (  With our support and guidance in participant recruiting, technology/logistics management, and even moderating/full-service support, Accelerant Research can provide you with similarly successful and impactful insights.