Self-ethnography – literally putting the tools of our trade into the hands of consumers and encouraging them to document their own lives – is a growing part of what we do. It has been enabled to a large degree by the growth of smartphones in the mainstream, and the growing tendency for people to document their lives and the world around them.
It’s taking research into completely new territory: from push to pull.
Over the past decade the research industry has been asking the question: how can we make something that is essentially undesirable (i.e. research) a little more bearable? So everyone got very excited about gamification and Flash-based drag-and-drop exercises in online surveys.
But we’ve started to notice that far from sugar-coating a bitter pill, self-ethnography techniques can make research desirable, beneficial and even cathartic for people. And the end result is deeper and more powerful insights.