Qualitative Methods

How do consumers really use products? What day-to-day problems of consumers – problems that consumers might not even realise they have – can products help resolve? How is a brand perceived within its brand community? What is the role of influencers in the purchasing decision process? Using explorative methods, we can find answers to questions that are neglected in standard consumer surveys or even Big Data analyses. Our objective is to define concrete advice for guidance that can be employed by businesses.
Among these methodologies is the ethnographic approach in the broad sense of the term, and more specifically the use of interviews, behavioural observation studies and the analysis of text, image and video material.

In brief, the use of explorative methodologies makes it possible to:

• Scrutinise the natural living environments of consumers
• Understand attitudes and forms of behaviour
• Take a scientifically-based and systematic approach to the analysis of complex realities
• Supplement quantitative data with valuable in-depth information



Harley Davidson: Subcultures of Consumption

Prof. Dr. John Schouten employed an ethnographic approach in order to provide Harley-Davidson with an enhanced understanding of the effect of the concept ‘subcultures of consumption’. In his pioneering article “Subcultures of Consumption: An Ethnography of the New Bikers” that appeared in JCR in 1995, he coined the phrase ‘brand communities’, giving rise to the subsequent definition of other forms of consumer collectives. His conclusions were and still are of considerable relevance for those working in practice and for researchers. The ethnographic insights obtained were used by Harley-Davidson to derive implications relevant to product development, brand extension and the management of brand communities.



Stadt St.Gallen: Smart City St.Gallen

A smart city is an urban development that is made more efficient, environmentally-friendly and socially inclusive by means of the use of digital technologies. A framework concept is being developed for St. Gallen that will help make the city as a whole ‘smarter’. During the several phases of the project, there will be direct involvement of the residents of St. Gallen. One emphasis is being placed on smart mobility, whereby Audi AG and Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) have been recruited as project partners.

Audi, BSH, Siemens, Allianz, Hornbach: Life in the future

What do we want our lives to be like in ten years’ time? Through extensive discussion with experts, it is hoped that it will be possible to draw up a cross-sectoral picture of what forms the future might take. Insights gained into plausible and desirable everyday worlds ten years in the future can be used to identify viable future business fields, business models, products and services. This project is being undertaken in collaboration with Audi AG and a consortium of other businesses (including BSH, Siemens, Allianz and Hornbach).