Products and services are increasingly social—in many instances the delivery of a product or service to a customer is just the beginning of the story, as it becomes part of their conversation (increasingly occurring in social network spaces) and as they adapt and co-opt innovations in their own way.

Key to delivering exceptional services requires an understanding not only of how your services are used, but also perspective on the context in which they are experienced. We use ethnographically inspired research methods, targeted to help answer specific design challenges, to gain a deep understanding of the needs, motivations, barriers, and social contexts of the people you are wanting to engage. These methods extend more traditional approaches such focus groups to expose both tacit (unexpressed) and explicit (articulated) needs, reducing the reliance on the participantʼs conscious analysis of their own behaviour.

At the early stages of a project such research is generative—used to inspire and inform the project team to develop new ideas and identify unexpected opportunities. Later in the project lifecycle they become more evaluative, helping us to refine and evolve an offering as we learn from people’s responses to ideas and proposed solutions. The rich outputs of our research work inspire new design directions and ideas, and can verify accurate—or more importantly avoid costly—assumptions, reducing risk and potentially exposing new market opportunities.