The study entailed ethnographic observations with 40 participants, 8 each in UK, Spain, France, Germany and Poland.
Ethnography is a qualitative research method that involves spending several hours with a participant to observe in-depth their real life circumstances and habits. Being able to observe participants in their own environments allows us to truly observe what they would really do, and not just what they say they would do. Participants were also given a video camera to record any shopping related moments, it allowed us to see certain moments of the full shopping journey – the difficulties involved in tracking down a package, the joy of receiving a product, or the hassle of making returns – that we were not able to observe first hand during the initial observation.
The in-depth nature of the study allows us to fully understand the process from beginning to end, and to capture the emotions of the participant as they go through a shopping process. The open observations also allows the study to explore a wide range of behaviours and to be surprised by what is revealed in the field, rather than remaining restricted by existing hypotheses or strict questionnaires.
In each country, participants were recruited in multiple locations, with a mix of city and more suburban environments. All participants were 18-25 years old.
The participants spanned a range of behaviours, from the “shopping addict” and the “frequent returns” shopper, to the “unlucky” shopper and the “occasional” shopper.
Participants were also recruited to ensure a diversity of living situations: at home with parents, in apartments with roommates, students, professionals…