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Understanding consumers lives: Mobile ethnography – bridging the gap between actual and reported behaviour

Fully understanding interaction with and reactions to new products and packaging is a fundamental part of product testing within NPD.

Gaining insight into the lives of consumers and how they engage with new product and packaging ideas has previously only been accessible via costly ethnography.

Whilst costly, it can truly help to understand key questions such as:

  • What are respondents’ initial reactions to the packaging / product?
  • How easy was it to open / use the product?
    • What does the opened pack look like?
  • What does the finished / cooked meal look like?
    • How does this compare to what it’s meant to look like?
  • How would respondents describe their experiences of using the packaging / product?
  • What do they like and dislike about their experiences of the packaging / product?
  • How have they used the product…
    • Occasions?
    • How is it stored?
    • How is it prepared?
    • What is it served with?
    • Who was it consumed?

However, there is now an alternative to traditional ethnographic techniques.

By embracing the very latest in mobile phone technology and the fact that smart phone take up and usage is now widespread there are now opportunities to gain a new level of insight and understanding of products and packaging that previously weren’t possible.

Our new mobile ethnography methodology bridges the gap between consumers’ actual and reported behaviour. It provides the missing piece of the jigsaw within in-home product and pack testing by accessing real behaviour with engaged participants, enabling them to record their own thoughts and actions.

Called Be-There, it’s a downloadable app that allows consumers to record their activities via their mobile phone using video, audio, photos, text and barcodes in-situ, without the presence of a researcher.

As consumers always have their phones with them, as well as testing products / packaging in the home it also means they can record thoughts on products on the go such as snack orientated products. They also find the experience fun and engaging and findings once analysed are then used to inform the final report in addition to us being able to supply a standalone video of key insights recorded.

Be-There provides a truly cost-effective alternative to F2F ethnography and is ideal for small, fast-turnaround projects or longer-term tracking studies, with the flexibility of carrying out studies across multiple locations.

In a nutshell, whether used as a standalone study or to enhance more traditional forms of research, it helps us get closer to real consumer behaviour.

If you want to know more about Be-There and how it can help you get closer to real consumer behaviour please call Andrew Tharme, Managing Director, on +44(0)1865 336 400 Email:


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