About Digital Ethnography

Mining Today’s Conversations

A foundational method we use to pinpoint desires is called Digital Ethnography.

Think of Digital Ethnography like social listening on steroids. It is one-part social listening tool, one-part consumer psychology, and one-part category knowledge.

This method provides insight into the contemporary desires of customers. We have used it in many different industries including travel, automotive, restaurant, and grocery to name a few.

The following are a couple of simple examples of insights from digital ethnography.

Travel: Golf

A Story about the Course and the Crew

In setting up brainstorming for golf clients, we looked at social posts about their courses and consistently found two very different golfing desires.
The following two posts are representative these desires.  

Me Against the Course

These posts featured a person facing away from the camera as they do their tee shot. 

The Me Against the Course golfer imagery represents a golfer who is highly competitive. They seek out courses that challenge their abilities and are willing to travel for the best courses. 

Get Back with My Crew

These posts feature shot of a group of friends enjoying a golf getaway.

The Get Back with My Crew golfer is focused on a trip to reengage with friends. The golf course is just a backdrop for their get-together. Their desire is to spend time with their crew to share past stories and create new ones.

These two golf mindsets led to different idea territories in brainstorming.

Me Against the Course golfer is highly competitive and therefore the focus was on highlighting challenging courses and/or tournaments. This golfer will travel a significant distance to take part in a challenging experience.

The Get Back with My Crew is about a check-in to check-out itinerary. While golf is the anchor activity, they are just as interested in other social activities including interesting places to eat, pubs or microbreweries, and non-golf activities. These people usually meet up on an annual basis and most of the group is within four hours driving distance from the destination.

Grocery: Deal Seeker

What’s the Deal with Groceries?

About two-thirds of grocery shoppers are deal seekers – they spend time to save money.
Combine this with the fact that over 50% of shoppers share their deals with friends, family, or online.
In reviewing the digital ethnography, it is apparent people aren’t just sharing,
they are bragging about their deal seeking abilities.
The following are few examples of shopper bragging rights.

My Grocery Haul

Shoppers are bragging about how much they saved on their latest trip. Sometimes their grocery haul may be from a single store, but most shoppers use multiple stores to maximize their savings.

The following link displays shopper grocery hauls in Google images.
If you click through each image you will see a wide variety of braggable moments.

My Real Meal Deal

Another desire is for shoppers to get the most meals per dollar. These posts are a combination of bragging plus altruism. In addition to seeking fame, the shopper also has a desire to help out fellow shoppers.

The following link displays meal plans for $100 in Google images. Note that you can search on different dollar amounts (e.g., $50, $100, $150).

As you can see from these two examples, the shopper desire is more than a store’s BOGO or buy 5 and save $5 promotion.
These examples inspired two different territories within brainstorming.

The first territory focused on ideas that fueled a shopper’s braggable moments
by showing how our grocery deals were better than the competition. 

The second territory was about generating ideas that fused deal seeking with weekly meal planning.

Eco: Green Mindsets

The Psychology of being Green

Many clients are brainstorming on green now a days. Some sessions are about product innovation, while others are increasing brand relevance to an eco mindset.

Inspiration for green brainstorming focused on the different levels of motivation people have when it comes to saving the planet.

People have different mindsets in determining how green they want to be. These mindset affect our eco action, conversation and social behavior. The visual displays the different levels of eco-conscious. They were derived from secondary research and digital ethnography. 

The mindsets become a lens to find brand and social themes within today’s conversation. 

This is one example of how consumer psychology drives digital ethnography. Other categories we applied consumer psychology models include automotive, restaurant, healthcare, banking, grocery, and durable goods.