Applying Anthropology to Unlock Insights

Ethnographic Research

Increasingly, leading businesses are recognizing the value of ethnographic research and are incorporating this approach into their customer insights. Ethnography is the study of people in their natural or “native” environments—where they live, work, shop, and play. It is a set of complementary techniques developed within the discipline of anthropology. The ethnographic method requires a well-trained researcher skillful in immersing themself in diverse environments, cultures, and populations; in establishing rapport with people in these social contexts; and in interacting with them through participation, observation and dialogue to uncover their attitudes, beliefs, perceptions, and values, as well as the unspoken cultural patterns that shape behavior.

At Ethnographic Insight, we believe the key to smart research starts with asking the right questions, challenging assumptions, and staying open to new ways of seeing. This means that each research project is unique and customized to fit the objectives, needs, and budget of our client. It also means that we’ve been able to apply ethnographic research to solve very diverse problems, taking anthropology to places Margaret Mead would never have dreamed of.


Innovating and bringing new ideas, products, and services to market has many potential risks and rewards. Using ethnographic methods to ground the development process in customer experience can inform positioning, agile product design, concept testing, lean processes, and help avoid pitfalls during and after launch.

User Experience Research (UXR)

Unlike user studies carried out in an artificial setting, we examine and assess how customers use and experience your products and services in real-world environments (on-the-go, online, at home or work). This establishes their patterns of use, current level of satisfaction, unmet wants and needs, and areas for improvement and innovation.

Customer Journeys

What are the points of contact that your customer has along their journey with your business, service, or products? By understanding and mapping their end-to-end journey, you can shift your fundamental orientation to putting the customer first and allowing them to define the value of your business. Customer journey research uncovers unmet needs, fuels innovation, and drives customer loyalty.

Healthcare Research

The healthcare system is recognizing the need and value of a patient-centered approach to research and development. But, what does this mean for a sector that has traditionally relied on electronic health records, population-level analytics, and a product focus? We need to focus on patients and their diverse experiences in a face-to-face setting to truly understand what matters to them–their burdens, unmet needs, and desired outcomes.


Our research deliverables typically include a kick-off meeting, debriefs, a top-line report (for aggressive timelines), and a final report featuring an executive summary, key findings, opportunities, and recommendations. When video is utilized, we create edited highlights of key learnings. We deliver in-person final presentations and workshops to disseminate findings, explore implications and develop next steps.