Consumer Insights

for new energy product in china


A leading multinational consumer health products company wanted to position existing product concepts and plan long-term energy product development in the vast Chinese consumer market.


Ethnographic research and consumer focus groups in Shanghai and Xi'an uncovered consumer preferences and identified unmet needs in this product category.

We asked participants to show us items from their homes and lives that related to and exemplified their experiences with products and services in this category.

We also immersed ourselves as much as possible in analogous ways to get close to participant experiences within this category: we visited a traditional Chinese medicine practitioner to get an experiential understanding to bring to our data analysis.


We provided key cultural insights as recommendations to drive sales strategy, messaging, and further product concept development.

design research for 2014 lincoln mkc


An automotive manufacturer wanted to change its brand image with a new compact crossover luxury vehicle targeted at new, younger consumers.


As part of a multidisciplinary research team from IDEO, I conducted ethnographic research in three regions with 21 consumers of luxury products and experiences.


This approach defined consumer needs and expectations and illustrated how consumers construct self-definition and meaning by the things they bring into their lives.


Additional analogous research, such as with chocolatiers and yacht sellers, yielded additional insight for the design recommendations.​


Design principles for the 2014 Lincoln MKC.

Design research for public safety product and service


A global high technology company wanted to develop a new product and service to support communication in times of crisis.


As part of an IDEO interdisciplinary design team, I conducted ethnographic research in three regions with people who were directly impacted by the events of 9/11/01, with those who were active members of neighborhood watch groups and with others who were actively involved in emergency preparation.


This approach uncovered unmet needs in urgent physical and emotional situations when communication was critical.


Five detailed design recommendations were provided to the client's software development team, along with qualitative and ethnographic data, from which a new beta website product and service was developed.

ethnographic research for dissertation


Though the most important reason for earning a bachelor's degree cited among college freshmen is improved career opportunities, only 20 percent of those who graduate with a bachelor's degree in anthropology report their jobs are closely related to their major. Why is this number so low?


This study used ethnographic methods at one university in Southeastern Michigan during the 2008-2009 academic year to explore the social, institutional and personal factors that shape student motivation for choosing a major in anthropology, the delivery of anthropology education from faculty perspectives, and advising regarding academic coursework, career preparation and career options.


Further, this study examined what happens after graduation, when anthropology majors found themselves facing the work environment.


Findings suggest academic advising and career services department focus on getting students in and out of the university and into jobs as efficiently as possible. Findings also suggest the academic faculty of the department of anthropology embody academic anthropology disciplinary values and ideals through teaching.


Students pick up the multiple and conflicting values through interactions in the learning settings; the conflicts produce uncertainty and anxiety about choosing a major, a career path and finding jobs, resulting in identity dissonance that must be resolved.


Patterns of resolving identity dissonance based on internal and external beliefs about the value and prestige of education and work may have implications for the discipline of anthropology more broadly.

Innovation research for industrial manufacturing


An established global industrial product manufacturer wanted to find a disruptive innovation for manufacturing facilities.


Observational contextual interviews on site at manufacturing plants across industries in the US, Europe and China uncovered unmet needs and opportunities.


A map of the relationship of product issues to point-of-use needs helped the client prioritize product innovation plans.

user research for website redesign


An international exterior building product manufacturer wanted to make its website more consumer-friendly.


Focus groups and one-on-one contextual interviews identified key design features most relevant and useful to homeowners rather than other constituents in the chain.


Findings and recommendations defined the consumer journey and provided specific design, content and emotional strategies to include and improve in the new website.

What people say,

what people do,

and what people say they do

are entirely different things.

Margaret Mead,
Renowned Anthropologist


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