Ethnographic research and… pizza margherita!
Do you remember? We have already talked about ethnographic research, that particular market research that implies direct observation of the entire process that involves consumers in their choices and motivate them to purchase.
Well, today we want to tell you about an ethnographic research carried out by Testpoint which had as its object none other than… the pizza margherita! In this case, it was a research defined as B2B (acronym for Business-to-Business) research, in the sense that the main object of observation was the companies, their owners and their staff and only at a later time the consumer.
Pizzerias under the lens
The research was carried out in Naples and Milan, in order to detect differences between pizzerias in Southern and Northern Italy.
Five pizzerias per city were selected, mix of large and small ones, belonging to chains or independent, and here the researchers went to spend an entire day, closely observing the habits and behaviors of the subjects involved in the study (the owner, the pizza chef, the waiter, the customer), immersing themselves in their lives to understand the reasons for choices and purchases.
The researchers, careful to remain neutral and not to interfere with the work of the restaurant, had the task of transforming themselves into “living cameras” to observe and record the behaviors that lead to the purchase, focusing attention on the influence that can have the environment on consumers.
The work was followed in all its phases: from the preparation of the dough in the morning, to the setting up of the room, to the service at the busiest moments both at lunchtime and at dinner time (the type of clientele and the duration of the meal are very different).
In addition to the actual observation part, accompanied by photos and videos, the research also included 90-min interviews with the owner and 30-min interviews with the staff (pizza maker and waiter) to understand all the phases of the work, from the process of purchasing raw materials, to the realization of the finished product, to the service. In short, it was a question of exploring the entire pizza supply chain, from raw materials, to table service, to delivery.
A research in small steps
Ethnographic researches are carried out on a relatively small sample and have no statistical value: they often represent the first phase of a broader market research which will then be carried out later with other methodologies.
In this way, however, it is possible to enter people’s lives and understand what they do, what they choose and how and why they choose it, helping to discover the psychological universe of consumers and the emotions that are associated with a product.
The owner and the client
This time we ask a pizzeria owner and a customer/consumer to tell us about their experience. They are Gennaro, 40, from Naples, manager of a pizzeria in the historic city center, and Francesco, a customer who often eats a pizza for lunch.
“Actually – says Gennaro – I was quite perplexed when I received the request to host an interviewer for a whole day in my restaurant to observe the phases of our work. As you can easily imagine, in a pizzeria the work is hectic and I was afraid that the presence of a stranger could distract my employees. But the researcher was very good, she was able to observe, photograph, film the entire course of the work, without really getting noticed. The interview was also very interesting: she asked me how I choose and purchase raw materials, how I organize the work of the employees, with what criteria I set up the room, how I keep up with the times to better meet the needs of the customer. You know, nowadays it is essential to be able to offer the customer a quality service, that is, to work with selected raw materials, and also to face increasingly widespread problems such as gluten or lactose intolerance. I must tell you that an hour and a half has literally flown”.
“I come to this pizzeria very often during my work lunch break – says Francesco – because the pizza is excellent, the choice is wide, the service is familiar but accurate and fast. I was pleased to participate in this interview in which I was asked the reasons for my choice to have a pizza-based meal. I talked about my tastes in terms of fillings and the importance for me of being able to choose D.O.P. ingredients”.