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Ethnographic and simulation research

Looking at how ethnographic research allows marketing researchers to be “participant observers” of their customers.

Using techniques adapted from applied anthropology, ethnographic research allows marketing researchers to be “participant observers” of their customers in their “natural environment.”

With this technique, the researcher strives to understand behaviors from the point of view of the consumers. This type of research emphasizes observational data collection methods but may also include interviews, diaries, style testing, or other forms of data collection.

For example, before introducing new designs for activewear, a fashion brand company may have a marketing researcher attend classes at fitness clubs to observe and learn about the activewear worn by members of the clubs within the actual fitness club environment. Fashion companies also use ethnographic techniques to better understand consumers’ use and maintenance of products, for example, through in-home immersion sessions whereby marketing researchers can observe, ask questions, and listen to consumers about maintaining clothing.

Girl holding a clothes basket which has items of clothes in it. There is a boy opposite her holding an inverted empty clothes basket over the full one.

Using ethnographic research techniques, marketing researchers can better understand how consumers wash and maintain clothing.

Simulation research

Simulation research allows companies to simulate or mimic a business situation to better predict the results of a business decision that adapts or changes the situation. For example, a simulated or virtual shopping experience can be created to monitor the shopping and purchase decision processes of consumers and the effect of changes in the retail environment on the virtual shopping experience.
Virtual reality retail experiences can be used to simulate and examine consumer behavior.

A fashion brand company may also create a computer-generated model of their factory setting at the effectiveness of several layouts to determine the most effective and efficient workflow layout. Simulated computer-generated fit models or avatars can also be used by a fashion brand company to test how sample designs would fit or function. With these types of computer simulations, factors can be changed quickly to see if the changes affect behaviors or efficiencies.

The next type of marketing research uses experimental techniques which rely on independent and dependent variables to guide decisions and the launching of new products.

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Introduction to Fashion Marketing and Research

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