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How we conducted ethnography research to enhance new product development

How we conducted ethnography research to enhance new product development

The challenge
The majority of stoma patients in developing emerging markets such as India and Indonesia use external bags that are domestically manufactured or imported. We conducted research which gave internal stakeholders the necessary direction for developing a new product concept.

The solution
Ethnography research in the form of participant observations was conducted with 10 patients in each market who had a permanent colostomy procedure.

The ethnography was conducted in the patient’s home, and we used a combination of conversation and observation to understand the disease burden. The ethnographer observed the daily lives and routines of patients, the activities done by the patient throughout the day, including the kind of food that was consumed, extensive rituals with changing and cleaning of the bags, and the interactions between the patient and their family members and carers. 

This method provided a rich understanding of patient attitudes, behaviours, pain points and challenges:



Faeces is the epitome of unclean and impure 

For fear of a mishap/ leakage in public, patients find renewed purpose and goals

Altering power structures

Food is a double-edged sword

Increasing physical dependence on spouses, children, carers in cleaning and changing the bags which can lead to friction, tension and conflicts

On the one hand patients need adequate calories and nutrition while on the other hand, there is a pressing need to resist food quantity and avoid certain foods to control the stool


The outcomes
The insights from the ethnography research helped develop a new product concept: the format, the design sensibilities, sensorial experience and peripheral products:

Format: Opaque bags with aesthetics that blocks the view of the faeces
Design Sensibilities: Adhesive that works in humid climate
Sensorial experience: Fragrance to diffuse the odour/ neutralise the odour
Peripheral products: Sanitise wipes to clean the new bag

Find out more about ethnography research » 

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