Qualitative Ethnography: Uncovering Deeper Meaning For Impactful Insights

SmartRevenue's Qualitative Ethnography provides clients with a rich, contextualized understanding of their customer/shoppers' behaviors, decision-making processes, drivers/barriers, habits, and need-states. 

SmartRevenue's Qualitative Ethnographic methods can be used to:

  • Comprehend shopper behavior by gaining a complex interpretative picture of the shopper’s multi-layered world
  • Form behavioral hypotheses based on:
    • Community and individual perceptions and beliefs that inform decisions
    • Household habits towards goods,  which are discerned to be entrenched or changeable 
    • Practices, that are contextualized within  shopper’s environment, knowledge, plans, and strategic schemas  
  • Gather empirical data that can inform quantitative research design

Qualitative Ethnography: Methods


SmartRevenue conducts at-home ethnography to better understand the shopper within her consumer environment. Behavioral and attitudinal insights include:

  • Cultural and community dynamics
  • Family dynamics
  • Need-states
  • Purchaser dynamics: who consumes? who shops?
  • Research goals, practices, and destinations
  • Purchase process triggers
  • Purchase process mapping including channel, category, and brand consideration arcs
  • Media channel preferences and usage practices
  • Product preferences, choice history, and usage habits
  • Influencers and recommenders
  • Barriers to knowledge
  • Barriers to usage

At home ethnography is conducted by senior SmartRevenue ethnographers with professional fieldwork experience and training in advanced market research techniques:

  • Ethnographic observation
  • Moderated interviews with family and individuals
  • Solo interviews on tablets
  • Video/photo diaries and blogs
  • Ethnographic film


Shopalongs enable clients to contextualize categories within the whole retail environment. Ethnographers accompany the shopper during the entire shopping trip to provide deep understanding of in-store behaviors and attitudes – from the shopper’s point of view. Ethnographers observe the shopper’s behaviors as she navigates the store and its aisles, browses categories and displays, and handles products. These behaviors are linked to interview modules, which are conducted before, during, and after the shopping trip. Guided by senior analysts with access to real-time data, ethnographers strategically probe shoppers on key behaviors and attitudes as they become evident to provide exploratory and explanatory insights. Insights include:


  • store, aisle, shelf patterns
  • heat maps
  • use of aisle and shelf signage
  • Interactions
  • browsing, handling, purchased/put back
  • reading packages and displays; what is read
  • browsing patterns

Purchase decisions

  • shopping list use and practices (i.e. specification of category/brand/attributes)
  • findability of products
  • drivers of impulsivity
  • discoverability of new products


  • awareness and recall
  • perceptions, history, and preferences
  • packaging and pricing within the competitive set
  • equity within the category and cross-category
  • media, displays, signage, and promotions
  • stopping & holding power
  • noticeability

Total basket

  • barriers to purchase
  • closure rates at the store, category, and brand levels




SmartRevenue is an experienced provider of focus group research for consumer insights, testing, and usability using roundtable, IDI, and test kitchen and lab formats.

Focus groups provide an effective framework for exploratory research to test and refine hypotheses and drive the development of questionnaires for broad-based in-store/point-of-purchase and online research.  SmartRevenue provides respondents recruited from local lists, online lists and panels, and intercepts, in addition to client-supplied lists. Screeners are developed on the basis of segmentation typing tools and/or other project-specific criteria to ensure properly targeted respondent pools.

SmartRevenue has formed partnerships with best-of-class local and national focus group facilities to provide clients single-source access to a flexible and comprehensive network. SmartRevenue coordinates this network to meet research design questionnaire, sample, and logistical specifications and ensure cost effectiveness and time efficiency.

Successful focus groups require highly trained and professional moderators. SmartRevenue provides moderators, who possess expertise with focus group techniques including visualization, imaging, and sorting and ranking, as well as experience orchestrating participant dynamics, discouraging inhibitors, eliciting responses creatively, and producing insights strategically.

Consumer studies: penetration & awareness; product, retailer, and brand preferences; advertising strategies; media awareness and recall; satisfaction; equity
Testing and usability: concept; new product; advertisement; display; packaging



SmartRevenue ethnographers accompany shoppers as they surf the Internet. Screen sharing technology enables ethnographers to observe and follow-up with respondents in real time to understand how the digital space influences the path-to-purchase. Conference call audio and screen sharing ‘footage’ is recorded for analysis.

Deliverables and insights include:

  • Integration of observations and interviews to understand what shoppers are doing and why, including:
  • Navigation: what/how navigational strategies influence awareness and consideration
  • Usability/Functionality: What and how presentation, layout, and communication influence decision making, perceived shopability, and conversion
  • Search and Ratings/Reviews: Search criteria, and impact of reviews on consideration and selection
  • Website content
  • Product placement & presentation, portfolio, and availability
  • Rating and reviews
  • Price/value perception

Learn More

We would welcome the opportunity to review our capabilities and methods with you. Email us for more information: braxton.haulcy@smartrevenue.com