Ethnography-photography: A visual approach to segmentation and living standard evaluation in emerging markets

Steven Greenland, Lez Rayman-Bacchus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper presents a visual research approach for segmenting emerging markets and investigating the consumer segments
therein, on the basis of observed household living conditions. The study contributes to the paucity of visual research in the
marketing arena, and reveals how ethnography-photography can serve as a viable alternative for overcoming some of the
challenges associated with using traditional segmentation research in developing countries. Around 10-25 photographs were taken of the interiors, exteriors and surroundings, from a cross-section of 240 households from Nairobi, a major Sub-Saharan African city. The visual data were processed by creating photo montages for each household, which were then ranked and classified according to the observed living conditions. A visual content analysis of this montage sequence enabled households to be categorised into broad living condition groups. Many of different household characteristics used to define and differentiate one group from the next are not considered by traditional segmentation research. This paper therefore highlights the potential of ethnographic-photographic research to support traditional segmentation techniques and enhance understanding of consumers in emerging markets.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-21
Number of pages13
JournalMarket and Social Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2014
Externally publishedYes


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