Interviews are an ideal for method for gaining a deep understanding of why,
how, when, where, and/or with whom individuals use a product, consume media,
or participate in a phenomenon. For instance, how does your consumer connect
with your brand? Why do they choose a certain product? Are they engaging with
your social marketing? These are questions that can be addressed through
in-depth interviews. As the interviewer, I create a joint narrative with my
participant(s) by keenly listening, establishing a dialogue, and ultimately
forming an interpretation that accurately reflects the story(ies) they tell.

Case Studies

Case study is a useful method when a detailed understanding of a complex issue
or phenomenon is necessary. For instance, to gain insight on why
millennial-aged women participate in a phenomenon known as ‘hauling’
(producing short ‘show-and-tell’ or product review videos) on YouTube, I
conducted three case studies of micro-celebrity vloggers. Each case included
an in-depth interview with the vlogger and a content analysis of videos and
comments posted to these videos on each channel. Through triangulating across
multiple sources of information (e.g., video producer, videos, and text), case
study methodology is beneficial when a comprehensive observation is needed.

Textual Analysis

In order to understand the who, what, when, where, how, and/or why of a
particular phenomenon or issue, it may be necessary to conduct an in-depth
exploration of its basic characteristics. For instance, to help the National
Park Service (NPS) determine if its ‘Find Your Park’ campaign was successful
in reaching a millennial audience, I conducted extensive content analyses of
social media posts and videos to extract key themes and assess how citizens
and the NPS participated in this campaign. Textual analysis works well for
systematically reviewing artifacts, which may include social media content
and/or commentary, other forms of material culture, interview transcripts,
surveys, and more.

Social Media Analysis

I will immerse myself in your social profiles to gain a deep understanding of
how and why you use them. Questions I may address include:

  • Are you writing effective captions that connect with and increase
  • Are you using the right hashtags to promote your brand and increase
  • What is the overall ‘feel’ over your social media presence? For instance,
    are your profiles visually appealing and cohesive? What captures a potential
  • Are you using the correct platform(s) to connect with your target audience?

Focus Groups

Some research inquiries call for interviewing several people at one time.
Focus group methodology can be useful when the goal is to hear multiple
perspectives about a topic. This method is comparable to a group discussion,
either guided or free- flowing, wherein participants are asked to share their
opinion. The goal is to build a conversation around the topic(s) at hand; and
ultimately, use the collective findings to address the research question(s).


Ethnography is a useful approach when it is necessary to understand the ‘why’
behind behaviors or sentiments displayed by individuals in cultural settings –
physical or digital. The goal of this research is to describe and interpret
the relationships between social practices and systems of meaning gathered
from observing and exploring the cultural setting in question. An ethnographic
inquiry may involve multiple stages of data collection including content
analysis (i.e., collecting and analyzing textual information), observation of
individuals in their natural setting, and participant interviews to learn more
about the behaviors displayed in that setting.


Depending on the nature of the inquiry, it may be ideal to accompany a
consumer when they engage in material consumption (i.e., at a store or online
retailer). Shopalong methodology is a type of market research wherein I
participate in the act of shopping by observing and questioning the
participant during the shopping and/or purchasing experience. This method can
be a great way to investigate in real time the decision-making processes
(opinions, attitudes, motivations, etc.) involved in consumer behavior.