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The Observational Research Handbook: Understanding How Consumers Live with Your Product Hardcover – 1 Jan 2000


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill Contemporary (1 Jan. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 065800073X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0658000737
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 2.4 x 23.1 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,262,759 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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From the Back Cover

Makers of consumer goods—from shampoo to ice cream, from toothbrushes to plastic storage bags, from home comupters to lawn mowers—want to know how their products are really used by buyers. For example, how many dollops of styling mousse does the average user put in her hair to achieve a satisfactory hold? What constitutes a fresh smelling load of laundry? How does a pot full of spaghetti noodles need to look, feel, and smell in order for the average consumer to consider it cooked? Beyond test kitchens, focus group studies, and surveys, few qualitative research techniques have allowed marketers and manufacturers to gain a profound understanding of how consumers truly use a product once they get it home from the store. Enter observational research (also known as ethnography), an increasingly popular marketing research technique. In a marketing context, ethnography or "descriptive anthropology" is the study of consumer behaviors. It is about observing and analyzing how consumers respond to a product or service in their own environments based upon their cultural values and relationships. Observational researchers study how people use and react to products or services in their own homes. The results of such studies often reveal surprising insights into consumer behaviors and preferences. This information then allows companies to tailor their advertising and marketing efforts to meet the often unspoken but widely observed needs of their targeted consumers. The Observational Research Handbook explores the burgeoning qualitative marketing research technique of ethnography and is the most comprehensive professional reference available on the subject. Directed to marketing and advertising professionals, as well as to market researchers and manufacturers of consumer products, the book explains what observational research is, what it can add to a consumer marketing effort, and how an ethnographic marketing study is conducted. It includes insights on setting study objectives, selecting the appropriate research method, defining the parameters of a study, creating interview scripts, applying specific practices and tips to the actual observations, and then compiling and analyzing the results.

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Amazon.com: 1 review
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Interesting but probably poorly understood by executives 5 July 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A bit repetitive at times, perhaps because the author didn't have permission to discuss a lot of different client projects. I came away thinking that observational research (which includes interactions with consumers - not just watching them) is a sophisticated research and planning activity that only the most advanced corporations (e.g., General Mills, Xerox, Hallmark, P&G, Toyota) understand and hire for (or maybe they use their own in-house experts, something that Abrams discourages). I would also expect that it takes a lot of training and experience for someone to do this without unintentionally influencing the study - although Abrams reinforces the point that this is subjective and qualitative - and that is part of it's value. Sure seems like if a observational researcher can do this well, they could discover things that could change an entire industry (like the Palm Pilot or the Chrysler Mini-Van). Overall, I found the book to be "okay," the method itself - potentially ground-breaking.
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