Millennials & Video-Ethnography:  So happy together!

And a big win for researchers and marketers too! Lately we’ve done a few video ethnography projects among millennials in three different categories.  And they’ve all yielded tremendous insight and in-depth discoveries.  An interesting finding about the “marriage” of the target and the methodology is that Millennials are more than willing to share their lives via autonomous video capture and perceived self-direction.  What researchers and marketers can potentially get in return is a wonderful glimpse into their homes, their personalities, relationships, interaction with friends, family members and pets -  and ultimately, their truths – who they are, what matters to them and why – which is our ultimate end game.

In fact, I’ve found this group much more willing to share feelings, concerns, wishes and desires via self-made video stories than they are in more traditional qualitative settings.  And why not?  Screens are a second nature connection to them.  Screens have been their preferred conduit to communication most of their lives. Screens are familiar, controllable, – their friends!  And what we as marketers get back are well-crafted, casually communicated stories about how they interact with products and services – and importantly, how they feel about brands. What’s real. Their truths.

We get answers to the questions we ask but so much more.  Video ethnography is instantly comfortable to this group.  They “do the assignment”, but they also feedback with a ton of unsolicited but often very exciting and surprisingly on-point anecdotes which provide the color and shading we look for to round out the “answers” and draw a truer and more complete picture of their perceptions of and relationships with the brands of our interest.

In a recent project we did with millennials, one person – after having completed the assignment – contacted us and asked what more we wanted her to do.  Are we satisfied with her feedback?  Did we get what we were looking for? Was there anything else we wanted her to capture on video?  While I was appreciative of the over-achieving effort, like any qualitative researcher, I asked why she was so willing to continue contributing beyond our initial “ask.”  The answer shed a lot of light on the relationship this demographic has with screens, video and technology overall – and what we as marketers can learn from relative to successful methodologies.

 “It seemed too easy!  Like I should be doing more for the money you paid me!”  Understand this was after having her complete a three-pronged exercise spanning over 3 days and submitting 15 minutes of self-made video.  In 17 years of researching consumer behavior, I’ve never otherwise once had someone contact me after an in-person ethnography (or following any other methodology for that matter) to ask if there was something else I needed to ask them or for them to do – “hey – do you want to come back to my house and ask me more questions?” No. That did not happen. Ever.

“It’s …easy!” And if it’s “easy”, isn’t it also more authentic, more natural and real?  Isn’t it also more reflective of Consumers’ Truths?  For the record, since she asked, I did have that millennial consumer video just more thing! It was easy!