Xerox is driving innovation in the transportation industry by combining big data analytics with ethnographic research. Xerox recognized that a multitude information isn’t communicated by quantitative data; cultural and social patterns largely influence how a product is used and understood.
Xerox combined qualitative with quantitative research to gain insights into traffic and parking congestion in Los Angeles. Quantitative data suggested a high price elasticity for parking, but this didn’t explain why parking occupancy rates in some areas didn’t increase when prices were lowered. Xerox then conducted ethnographic research to observe public attitudes and uses of parking. The study uncovered that some areas of the city were actually considered ‘undesirable’ for parking by the public. Xerox was then able to develop a dynamic pricing model that altered parking prices in different areas based on the public’s attitudes.
This article offers a valuable insight for marketers: ethnography and quantitative research can be highly effective when used together. Quantitative data can provide a good launching point for conducting ethnographic research, and ethnography can help researchers ensure the right questions are being asked. This tactic could provide businesses with a strategic advantage at understanding consumer needs.