Sam Mendes on using ethnography to influence the final cut of his latest blockbuster – Spectre

20th November 2015

If marketeers want to get to know their consumers as people, rather than as a statistic, there’s no substitute for in-the-moment, consumer observation.

So, how enlivening to learn that movie director Sam Mendes took an ethnographic approach to understanding viewer response during previews of his latest blockbuster Spectre!  In an interview with Mark Kermode & Simon Mayo in their Film Review on Radio 5, he said that his time spent sat with an audience, observing and living their experience of the film, was hugely beneficial: “You have to sit with an audience or two.  We did two previews, that’s when you really know…you can tell whether they’re engaged”.  After the previews he conducted discussion groups with the audience over lunch.  Credit to Mendes for being open to hearing the audience critique his work and to amending his final creation as a result; in fact he admits “I made some changes, significant changes after that”.

With such a high profile discussion of the benefits of consumer observation, and with the increase in wearable tech; video cameras & Fitbits, not to mention the infamous selfie-sticks (that are making consumers aware and comfortable with monitoring their own behaviours and activities), ethnographic methods are becoming increasingly sophisticated.

We always strive be up to date with our research tools and methodologies, and as such we’ve developed a bespoke mobile app which allows users to upload media files and attach brief commentary to their uploads.  This has proven to be a highly effective tool for ethnographic research and one which we have used to great effect across a number of categories including men’s shaving, women’s facial cleansing & cooking; all of which have revealed fascinating and enriching moment of truth insights into consumer behaviour.