This first stage of your work on your business plan is the most important. This is when we take the time to really get to know and understand our customers. There are two types of qualitative research that are really useful for this: Observational Research/Shadowing and Ethnographic interviews.
One of the easiest ways you can learn about your customers is through observing their behaviours. It’s also one of the oldest techniques used in market research.
It’s a qualitative research method of collecting and analyzing information that you get by directly or indirectly watching and observing others in natural or planned environments.
So how do you do this?
Figure out the kinds of places where your target customers would interact, buy, or use a product or service that’s similar to yours.
Bring a notepad or some other discreet way to record what you see. Don’t use any recording devices like cameras or cellphones.
Observe! It can be helpful to move around or change positions to get different perspectives and to avoid being too obvious.
You should never try to observe any potentially sensitive behaviours or make anyone feel uncomfortable. For example, don’t stand outside a change room. You also need to be very careful around vulnerable populations or children. If you need to do an observational exercise with kids, then make sure you get permission from parents or guardians.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Observational Research
- It’s free!
- Your subjects behave more naturally
- You can modify or adapt your approach to get the best results possible
- You have no control over the situations and environments
- It takes time!
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