Over the last couple of years, I’ve specialized my work into a field of photography called visual ethnography. Visual ethnography is using photography as a tool in qualitative research, also know as participant observation. Through a growing number of qualitative research projects, I’ve documented youth culture and consumer behavior in developing countries. Typically, I work as part of a small team of field researchers contributing to the project with an engaging visual narrative. Our respondents can be town- or country-dwellers, and we usually cover a variety of economic, social, political and ideological dimensions.
With a background as photojournalist and editorial photographer, I enjoy the fieldwork of meeting and documenting respondents’ everyday life and identifying patterns of development over time. Our findings have proven to be extremely valuable for international brands aspiring for growth opportunities in growth markets.
Collectively, the visual ethnography projects I’m working on are putting a face on a new generation of global consumers and brings to light the differences and similarities across the world’s biggest, and fastest growing emerging markets, who collectively stand poised to be the world’s super-powers of tomorrow.
To sustain and accelerate growth in emerging markets, international brands have to respond well to fragmented regional cultures and sub-cultures by constantly launching new, customized products and service offerings. The three examples below, show how visual ethnography can help international brands tap into their new consumers.
The Brazilian Dream
Brazil has jokingly been called “the country of the future and always will be”. But provided by a decade of economic growth, today it has reached an unprecedented moment in its history: the moment where it stands as a major world player.
‘O Sonho Brasileiro’ (The Brazilian Dream) is an extensive, qualitative study of the young Brazilian generation, who is the first to live in a hyper-connected world, and in a period of significant economic growth. The focus for this study is to understand this generation, its values, dreams and desires.
The study is based on 1,200 interviews with 18-24 year old Brazilians across the country and from all social groups. I contributed to the project with visual ethnography from São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Recife and Porto Alegre. A pivotal part of the commission was a documentation of the 25 case-studies. I followed the respondents over time, and documented their lives in their own environments, including at home and with their families.
The BRIC Project
The world’s biggest and fastest growing emerging markets are Brazil, Russia, India, and China, collectively known as the BRICs. Based on extensive qualitative research of the burgeoning middle-class in these four countries, the ongoing BRIC Project seeks to identify and understand the young, middle-class consumer.
Ultimately, the project will provide a comprehensive insight and strategic analysis of youth culture and consumer behavior for international brands. Our mission is to provide a long-term, multi-media and digitally empowered platform for delivering business generating insight and understanding.
Nike Football Culture in Latin America
This 400-page report produced for Nike, a sportswear and equipment supplier, focused on football culture among teens across Latin America. The visual ethnography project sought to capture how football as a sport greatly influence the daily lives of teenagers in both urban and rural settings, and helped the client strengthen its understanding of and relationship with its consumers.
The report was commissioned as a unique and unconventional ethnographic study of football obsessed teens in Argentina, Mexico, and Brazil, to generate findings and insights which improves the way Nike’s marketing team engages with its consumers.