Ethnography & User Experience International Research Services

Whether you are a brand interested in entering a new market, launching a new product or service, testing usability or creative, or redesigning packaging, there are a myriad of tools for you to gain depth of insight and to clarify the representativeness of your consumer group.  Unearth first-hand the needs of your existing and potential customers before committing a significant amount of investment towards a particular direction.

Most importantly, take the time when entering a new market to build visits for cultural safaris to understand cultural context!  Don't let a focus group facility be the only experience you have in-country.  Many multinationals are too focused on their product to understand that marketing context and strategic partnerships are accelerants to long-term success.

Entering New Markets - Consumer Brands

Ethnography and In-depth Interviews

A leading retail brand is interested in expanding its product and service into a new market.  This could be a US company interested in entering an accelerated economy like Vietnam, India or China.  Or an Indian, Chinese or Brazilian company interested in entering the U.S. Market.  




There is no greater way to begin a new country experience than being invited into the home of an everyday consumer. Ethnographic research allows clients to follow along on a shopping excursion, observe a family in their everyday setting or hang out with millennials in street cafes.  The visual stimulation and the journey itself is just as important as the content of the discussions. 

Allow time to visit malls and retailers to listen and see how consumers interact with the brand.


BMW is a lifestyle brand at a Shanghai mall

Usability Testing | User Experience

Product Teams and Researchers Leverage Human-Centered Design and Customer Journey Maps to Innovate & Stay Ahead

When taking a product or service to a new market, it's essential to put yourself in the seat of the customer and follow them completely on their customer journey.  Technology innovations allows us to see exactly what the consumer is browsing and clicking on in their smart devices while seeing their facial expressions.  Picture-in-picture live streaming technology brings these experiences directly to product teams across the world in real-time.  Beta versions and stimulus can be rotated in and out as feedback from customers are being live-streamed to product teams around the globe.

We leverage a myriad of technology to capture screenshots and facial expressions for picture-in-picture projections.  We also custom-build technology for usability where there are limitations on existing usability tools.   The goal is to allow as much natural and organic use of the product as possible.  Back-to-back in-depth usability testing can be done in interviewing facilities across the globe.

Focus groups can also be leveraged to allow clients to see a larger group of consumers discussing features and trade-offs, generating discussion that give insight to trends. 


Whether you are testing an app or the shopping experience on your website, it's important to see them doing these things in the environments that are most natural to them.  If you are iterating on a design, use in-facility in-depth interviews to obtain a robust number of reactions back-to-back.  In most experiences, frameworks and assumptions often get reset - and that's where the innovation begins.  

 We also use online Yammer groups to reach more consumers across a broader range of demographics - read more about it here.  Online retailers find it especially powerful to tap their consumers from anywhere in the world and in over 100+ languages.  Consumers have shown to be more engaged and forthcoming on this medium than they are in any other venue.

Thereafter, other methodologies can be used depending on the depth and breadth of your research needs.

There are so many things that would go undiscovered if research was not brought into the space where consumers live, work and play.  In Manila, and Seoul, malls are the agora of modern day culture and commerce.  A handful of dynasties control these gateways - build strategic partnerships that serve as accelerants to your brand's success.

The more you step outside of your comfort zone, the more you really start to understand the cultural, social and economic ethos of your target audience.  

Supplement your depth of discovery with an empirical approach.  Leverage segmentations and Usage & Attitude Research (U&A) to assess whether there is a viable market for a particular product or service, before costly resources are committed.  Launch A/B testing before you roll out your new ideas pervasively.  

Cultural Immersions in Emerging or Complex Markets | Smartphone Case Study

A smartphone company is very interested in entering a new market.  The landscape in this foreign market is rife with competitors, big and small.  The smartphone retailer knows it wants to go global and though it has not officially launched in this foreign market, its products are already there through 3rd party resellers and the black market.  The strategy, marketing and product teams have done their background research on the country, but needs to understand more deeply the barriers and accelerants.  They also need to know who their consumers are - the low hanging fruit, the early adopters versus later stage adopters. 

The teams need to go in-country for cultural immersion.  Cultural safaris and in-home ethnographies are an incredible way to see the day-in-the life of your consumer e.g. what their home environment is like, who their friends are (invite some over), where they hang out, etc.  Though you maybe going for a mix of consumers, target more heavily your early adopters and influencers - who will be pushing your product and services out to the late adopters.  Safaris could include where your product is marketed and retailed, but also how people are building awareness about the brands and how it is talked about by sellers and buyers.

It's also important to talk to influencers - those who write about your product or services, or those who use them and have a heavy set of followers on social media, tv, print media, etc.  These can be done in swanky lounges - wherever these influencers enjoy sharing thoughts and ideas.  These can also be telecom experts or retailers.  This is a great opportunity for internal teams to talk directly with early adopters and influencers.  The influencers will help uncover strategic partnerships that haven't been considered.

In subsequent visits you may have more specific product goals, but for the first stage, leverage ethnography and cultural safaris.  Avoid focus group facilities - instead, have conversations where your target consumers live, work and play.  Hire a videographer to put together short clips to share more widely with your teams that can't make the journey.  Make the investment to send your teams in-country and into the homes of your consumers.  Use the transportation your consumers use - take the metro, hitch a ride with a motorbike driver, or call your own ride-sharing service.  Be safe, but go the local route.  Hang out in popular local cafes or restaurants.  Take classes at the Apple Store - if there is one - whether you sell Smartphones or not.  See how retail brands like Apple build awareness, experiences and loyalty.  Immersion should be multi-faceted, studying not only the lives of daily consumers and your industry brands - but other brands outside of your industry as well.

Product Innovation in the B2B Space | Finance Case Study

A financial company is very interested in understanding more about how its products and services are meeting the needs of its institutional investors and financial advisers. The products are wide-ranging, from municipal bonds to emerging market ETFs.  Recruiting respondents who run $1billion+ Assets Under Management is no easy task, but still feasible.  These could be managers of hedge funds, mutual funds, pensions or endowments.  With the right incentive, they have been open to participating in qualitative and quantitative research, from traditional in-person focus groups, to online focus groups, phone interviews and survey research.  

After an in-depth exploration using one of many innovative qualitative approaches, a custom-designed Usage & Attitude study infusing empathy-centric observations, discussions and surveying methods would be deployed to thoroughly understand the range and depth of usage and perceptions.  The latter gives a quantifiable extrapolation of findings you uncovered in the in-depth exploration.

It is important to talk to varying cross-functional teams as well as to customers before any of the empirical study is designed.  Answers to key questions emerge:  Who are using these products and services? How do individual investors versus institutional investors go about researching and deciding upon their investment products? Who and what are their key information sources? What brands are within the awareness and consideration set? How do brand perceptions benefit or hurt our products and services? How much and what types of media do our customers consume and leverage for decision-making of our products and services? 

© 2011 by LP