Sociologist Tricia Wang dives into the world of China’s migrants to investigate the place of internet and mobile communication in their communities. In Market Sentinel she explains how how study relates to the needs of companies to understand their customers.
I do think that companies are hungry to reach their customers in more meaningful ways. People want authenticity and they want value. Companies want to deliver this. Though I’m not sure if this is translating into a greater demand for ethnographically driven research insights… just yet.
One of the hurdles to overcome is that people still mistake ethnography for marketing or the other way around. But much in the same way that we now recognize the value of design in the production process, I’m hoping to see companies embrace ethnographic methods in the strategic development. Five years ago no one valued user experience and now it’s central to many tech companies.
DS: Your work requires you to observe people and investigate what motivates their actions and behaviour. Is the “power of the peer” as strong outside of west as it is in?
TW: I haven’t noticed a difference in the strength of peer groups as if one place has stronger peer group influence than another. This is because the universal power of the peer group speaks to the deeply social quality of human beings. We all care deeply about how people around us perceive and receive us. We are all dealing with insecurity, growth, and identity in different ways.
However, the notion of the “peer” is relative and is cultural. The declaration of one’s peers in online peer groups unfolds in different ways depending on the social context. An interesting case study is the Chinese equivalent of Linkedin that failed in China. Why? Was it because Chinese people didn’t care about peer groups ? No, the answer is that Chinese people didn’t want to be explicit about their social connections with their peers.
- Bars and bonding, field work in China – Tricia Wang (chinaspeakersbureau.info)
- Lack of institutional trust hampers computer industry – Tricia Wang (chinaspeakersbureau.info)
- Looking for the bad guys, the shanzai story – Tricia Wang (chinaspeakersbureau.info)
- Telecommunication changes for 2012 – Tricia Wang (chinaspeakersbureau.info)