In the world of consumer technology, brands face constant pressure to be a step (or five) ahead of the marketplace. To anticipate the future needs, desires and expectations of consumers, marketers must have a tight pulse on culture and society. Successful product development requires a deep understanding of human behavior that goes beyond self-reported opinions and rationale. Most of us feel we have a solid grasp on our own motivations and reasons for action, but self-evaluation lacks objectivity.

This is where ethnographers come in. Ethnography is consumer research conducted within the context of real-world experiences. It creates an interpretive framework for understanding the consumer by determining what internal (emotional, rational) and external (social, cultural, environmental) influences affect perception and motivate behavior. W5 ethnographers are skilled at uncovering the underlying motivations that yield meaningful insights. So, when the advertising agency for one of the world’s largest consumer technology companies needed to understand how early adopters were integrating technology into their lives, they turned to W5. The following case study is a glimpse into W5’s approach for capturing authentic behavior to help predict future mobile habits.


A prominent ad agency, on behalf of one of the world’s largest consumer technology companies, wanted to understand the way in which early adopters integrate mobile technology into their lives.



W5 recruited tech-savvy consumers to participate on a multi-phased study that unfolded over the course of four weeks. Each consumer was given a new tablet device and the integration of this device into their life was carefully tracked. Participants kept an online diary and were interviewed on multiple occasions. The research culminated with an ethnographic interview in the participants’ homes, observing how mobile technology fits their individual lifestyle. These sessions were recorded by a professional filmmaker, who then crafted a short documentary that explored the issues at hand.


The clients were able to use the insights uncovered in this research engagement to not only understand how consumers currently integrate technology into their lives, but what they want and expect from technology in the future. This allowed the clients to proceed with their product and communications development with a fresh perspective, focused on innovation and the needs of the consumer.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *