This tool helps you uncover unarticulated needs of your current customers as well as that of the markets you serve. This is especially true in industries that service diverse customer segments - from boomers to X-Gens and now Y-Gens. Each segment may interact with your (or your competitor's) products and services in unique ways - which you may not be aware of. This tool will improve your knowledge about your banking customers in an intimate way.

Innovation "Targeting" Tool: Ethnography

Ethnography is a science that describes human social phenomena based on fieldwork and observation. Applied to the goal of innovation in the banking business, ethnography will inform you on how your customers are getting their jobs done by using your offerings, your competitors' offerings, or neither.

As an example, TATA Motors of India, as become a world brand because they use Ethnography as a critical tool to identify how vehicles are driven in remote rural markets as well as tight narrow inner cities to transport products and goods in the commercial market. This intimate knowledge opened up a large market for three wheel vehicles that has become one of the fastest growing new markets in that industry.

By applying ethnography early in the innovation process, you may discover jobs and/or outcomes that customers have not articulated, especially in cases where existing solutions fail or fall short. This is the same principle used by Apple. Apple does not spend too much on market research study, instead they mostly focus on customer field observations and design as their core product development values.

Have you ever tried to complete a chore (like fixing a sink) that requires a flashlight? If you need both hands to complete the job, you end up holding the flashlight in your mouth or putting it down. Observing people in this predicament led Black & Decker to invent the snake light-a light that can hold itself.

In this tool, you can learn to how to:

  1. Plan your ethnographic study of your customers so you can make important decisions. This will uncover not only conscious, but also subconscious emotional and biological needs. As such, it cannot be replaced by focus groups where participants provide primarily cognitive opinions.
  2. How to identify participants for data collection (are they customers who come to the bank branches, or are should it be the person walking in the city during lunch time, or subway passenger, or the person at a sporting event, or mom driving kids around on Saturday?)
  3. How to observe participants in the field and collect relevant data (product specific, emotional, facts, place, sights, sounds, etc.)
  4. How to conduct formal interviews (developing questions)
  5. Collecting Artifacts (pictures, video, competitor's items, maps, etc.)
  6. How to analyze data, looking for patterns and trends that can form one or more hypotheses.

Want to learn more about this and other tools? Please give us a call at +1-860-233-0011 or send us an email at We'll be happy to chat with you!