On November 9th 2018 I conducted a small study of people in Norwich Market using ethnographic interview techniques. On November 16th 2018 I conducted a second stage of the study, aiming to go into a little more detail about people’s purchasing habits and behaviours in the market, the ‘middle stage’ of the ethnographic research process.

Questions asked

The questions that were asked build on the questions asked in the previous round. I drafted the following questions:

  • Do you often visit the market? / Why?
  • Which stalls do you visit regularly?
  • How do you find your way around the market? / Have you ever got lost?
  • Do you buy food at the market?
  • Are waiting times an issue? / Are you in a rush when you use the market? / Do you enjoy talking to the people in queues?
  • If somebody recommended a different stall at the market, would you try it out?
  • How do you pay for products in the market? / Does this method ever present problems?

These questions focus on the conclusions of round one, which were that a potential app for Norwich Market needs to enhance a current activity and that should probably be purchasing food. Waiting times and navigating the market were two things that needed to change, identified by the previous round of interviewing.

After reviewing the questions with my peers, this was the final list of questions asked.

  • Do you buy food in the market and if so, how often and what kind of food?
  • Are waiting times an issue?
  • If a different stall was recommended to you, would you try it out?
  • If a stall had a special offer on would you be interested to know about it?
  • Do you like talking to the person selling you food?
  • Have you ever had trouble finding a new stall or even got lost in the market?
  • How do you think you should be able to pay for products in the market? Does this method ever present any problems for you?

These questions enabled me to gather insight to user behaviour and also gather some initial thoughts on potential features that an app could enable, such as special offers, stall recommendations and card payments.

Data analysis

36 results were collected.

Chips were the most commonly purchased food at the market, with 37.84% of respondents saying they bought them at the market. ‘Other’ made up for 35.91% which comprised of Asian and vegan foods as well as cheese and burgers. Fruit and vegetables were also a common purchase.

A large 56.52% of respondents said that they visited the market rarely, possibly less than once per month. However, only 8.7% of respondents said that they never visited.

Waiting times were a suspected pain point of the market, but surprisingly 75% of respondents felt that they were not an issue. Some respondents said that certain stalls had long queues and at lunch and in the early evening the market was busier, but queues tended to move quickly and so waiting times were short.

48% of respondents said they’d visit a new stall from a recommendation with 24% saying they probably would. Those who said they probably would tended to add ‘if it was something I would like/be interested in’. Those who said no tended to explain that they liked certain stalls and would not like to try anything else.

It was a very similar situation with special offers, but this time people tended to be more sure about not being interested in special offers with fewer people saying ‘maybe not’.

Interacting with shopkeepers was a key reason why people gave the impression that they did not really want an app in round one, but upon directly asking the question this time a large proportion (36.85%) of respondents said that they weren’t too bothered and only spoke ‘out of politeness’. 47.37% said that they enjoyed talking to shopkeepers.

Navigation was a possible identified pain point and this was verified in the data collected here with 61.90% of respondents saying that they do find it difficult to navigate the market and some even said they had gotten lost!

Currently, most stalls only take cash payments, however 55.27% of those surveyed said they’d prefer to pay on card and 5.27% mentioned contactless payments would be preferred.

Conclusions from the data

This data indicates that an app would need to:

  • Enhance the food buying experience (not many people seemed to buy drinks).
  • Encourage people to visit the market more frequently.
  • Help decrease waiting times further (even though it wasn’t a major issue, some people feel it is a problem).
  • Provide stall recommendations and special offers.
  • Encourage interaction with shopkeepers.
  • Allow card and contactless payments.

Potential ideas for an app

The two rounds of testing suggest that a ‘click and collect’-style app would be good:

  • User orders from device and collect when ready, thus:
    • Reducing queue times.
    • Retaining interaction with shopkeepers.
  • This also:
    • Allows for cash payment on collection or credit/debit card payment from the device.
    • Increases convenience, thus encouraging people to visit the market more regularly.
  • It could also include:
    • A map or directions to the stall or collection point, improving navigation.
    • Stall recommendations based on purchase history.
    • An opportunity for stall owners to promote products using special offers that could be app-exclusive.

Reflecting on the survey

  • The survey size was very small – only 64 people in both rounds. Not terribly representative.
  • Some questions could be re-phrased, e.g. ‘Are waiting times an issue?’ tended to invoke a response relating to how people about waiting in a queue, not really about if the queues are too long which could suggest poor accessibility which was an identified pain point from the previous round.
  • The grim weather on the second day may have reduced the number of available people to ask.
  • The demographic surveyed was mainly older people due to the time of day that the surveys took place (10am-12pm).

I found asking people on the street to do the survey a difficult task – I got a lot of rejections and felt that it took a long time to get a few results. I would not conduct user research in this manner again.