Monday, May 19, 2008

Trendy Monday (also Researchy): Food & Ethnography

I read an article this morning that made me laugh. It's not a funny article - at all - but every single word was so familiar to me, so similar to things I've said, that I couldn't help but smile.

In Food Product Design, researcher Nancy Rodriguez extolls the virtues of using ethnography to inform food development. Which totally makes sense, of course - I worked with more than one food company back in my ethnographic analyst days. Ethnography is exactly the right type of research to do for companies hoping to encourage creative, innovative thought.

But apparently ethno hasn't caught on the way anybody thought it would. I left Context, my old company, four years ago, after working there for about four years. They were a year and a half old when I started. During the years I was there, ethnography went from being completely unknown in the corporate world to enjoying acceptance (sometimes grudging) in most somewhat progressive marketing departments.

But the nature of this article - all the definitions of what ethno is and is not (not: focus groups), and the very basic approach to why ethno makes sense - these are things that I wouldn't have expected to read anymore. I thought that by now, marketers would just get it.

It's still a good article, though, even if there wasn't a whole lot of new information for somebody who spent years defending the research approach.

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