The Observation

The Observation

Gemma García Ferrer (Universidad Rey Juan Carlos, Spain)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6371-8.ch006
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This chapter discusses the observational technique as a scientific method that includes a broad spectrum of techniques, which could be classified in several ways. On the basis of the observation concept, its characteristics, advantages, and inconveniences are described. A quick run-through of the deployment of observation in other social sciences such as psychology, sociology, and anthropology is made, noticing to what extent market research has leveraged the latest advances in these areas, most specifically in psychology. It analyzes how to run the sampling in observation and also presents the registry and coding process. After the description and classification of the different observation types, a special mention is made to ethical aspects. Throughout this chapter the authors expose real research cases in which observation has being applied.
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Many years of research in retail, a lot of it in the field of fashion has transformed observation into an ongoing task, not exclusively when I research but also when I go for a walk or shopping on commercial streets or shopping centers. I experienced observation as an inherent task of my own being, observation has become a scientific process inside social science.

Along the chapter several examples of former studies conducted will be exposed, but I would like to start this initial reflection with what I have learned from one of them. In the fashion industry is usual that large chain stores, which are also in charge of design and development of patterns for their fashion collections, even though later on the production will be outsourced, send this own observers to different countries to their own stores their competitors as well. This work helps them to have dynamic collections (adapted to what they had seen a t the establishments when buyers were shopping) in such a way that a large proportion of season’s clothes will not be available at the beginning of it, but will be designed with the information of the observers.

The objective that I seek along this text is to inform about the great potential of observation, how to work with it and all typologies that covers, as well. In such a way that an observer who begins his career or has not used observation considers the possibility of using it for market research purposes. I will neither put behind its application on other social sciences nor the ethical aspects that our field arises.

When observation is consider as a market research technique for the first time someone can simply have an idea about what might it be. Some authors on their very first approach make a comparison between a reliable observer and a well-known detective from literature. Nevertheless, along this chapter it will be shown that observation is a scientific nature technique and with a wide range of possibilities. It will be illustrated with real cases, some of them from the author of this chapter.

Even though observation is initially understood as an inherent activity and day-to-day action of men, social science had become it into a scientific method, following a systematic process and seeking validity and reliability of the obtained data.

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