Research methods


What is ethnography? Ethnography is no longer a research ‘innovation’ – it is a staple part of Mustard’s core research offer.

We have developed a suite of ethnographic research methods grounded in the commercial reality of shortening timescales and limited budgets. In many instances clients need fresh “ethnographic” insight, but they need it quickly and cost effectively.

Mustard ethnography

Our pragmatic approach allows clients to gain a window into the lives of consumers by adhering to the following principles and techniques:

  • Rigorous screening interviews to understand the respondent’s life-story before meeting with them
  • Empowering participants and concentrating on the elements of their lives that are of most interest - thus delivering more focus than ‘pure’ ethnography
  • Using statement selection exercises to give us a short-cut to a raft of behaviours, perceptions and attitudes - and similar techniques that allow individuals to express themselves easily and without constraint
  • Using homeworks, scrapbooks, paper diaries, online diaries, video diaries - so ethnography participants can evidence behaviours, perceptions and attitudes
  • High volume, focused contact - multiple reconvened meetings, regular contact and ‘contextual observations’ - capturing film evidence where appropriate
  • Carefully selecting respondents with whom to ‘deep dive’
  • Defining and agreeing the relevant ‘contexts’ and settings for each participant meeting - the situations that define them, their natural habitats
  • Using consultation channels that the participant is comfortable and confident with -  whatever their ‘normal’ is

We use commercial ethnography for identifying product / service development opportunities, or projects such as ‘bringing segments to life’, and we can produce professional film outputs to support them.