Creating a Creators’ Market: How Ethnography Gave Intel a New Perspective On Digital Content Creators

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This case demonstrates how ongoing ethnographic research from within a corporation led to the re-segmentation of a market. The first part of the case focuses on how a team of social science researchers at a major technology company, Intel, drew on past research studies to develop a point-of-view on the increasing importance of content creation across a range of populations that challenged the findings of a quantitative market sizing study. Drawing on earlier qualitative work, the team was able to successfully argue for the value of ethnographic research to augment these findings and to show how research participants’ orientations toward technology constituted a more significant, and more actionable way of segmenting this new market than professional status, the differentiator used in the quantitative study. The second half of the case highlights the process of driving business change from within a large corporation. By turning an ethnographic eye on their own organization, drawing on past research, and by sharing unfinished results in workshops to grow the project in phases, the team was able to build stakeholder buy-in, and prime the organization for more ready adoption of ethnographic insights. As a result, the team's findings led to a substantive change in Intel's perspective on digital content creators, and to new products and marketing strategies. The team won a divisional award for defining a strategy that led to a profitable growth area for the corporation.

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