Videography in marketing research: mixing art and science

Videography in marketing
research: mixing art and science
Christine Petr
Science Po Rennes, Université de Rennes 1, Rennes, France
Russell Belk
Schulich School of Business, York University, Ontario, Canada, and
Alain Decrop
Faculty of economics, social sciences and business administration,
University of Namur, Namur, Belgium
Abstract
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to present videography as a rising method available for
academics. Visuals are increasingly omnipresent in the modern society. As they become easy to create
and use, videos are no longer only for ethnographers and specialist researchers.
Design/methodology/approach – In the society of “user-content generation,” visual data are
incredibly important, original, and powerful sources providing researchers with opportunities to
inventively make their results more resonant and more broadly accessible.
Findings – Moreover, videography offers the opportunity for researchers to become a kind of artist
since they become visual producers.
Practical implications – This paper offers concrete advices for researchers who want to to become
visual producers.
Social implications – Researchers have to make their results more resonant and more broadly
accessable.
Originality/value – Videography is a new way (an artistic one) to present results of research.
Keywords Ethics, Visual literacy, Editing, Pre-production considerations, Video-making,
Videography
Paper type Viewpoint
I. Introduction
The first film festival of the Association for Consumer Research (ACR) was held in
2001. It institutionalized a new way to present one’s research in addition to the
traditional format of written manuscripts. This symbolic event announced the birth of
videography as a relevant research tool for the academic field of marketing and
consumer behavior. Videography may be defined as the process of producing and
communicating knowledge through the collection and analysis of visual material.
Nevertheless, videography has not become a substitute for the traditional way of
disseminating academic research. Perhaps this is because making films is timeconsuming and not yet regarded as equal to a traditional research “publication.” While
living under the current evaluative tyranny and the stipulation to be “productive” with
a certain number of articles published per period, why would marketing researchers be
tempted to produce their research through videography?
Five main reasons may stimulate marketing and consumer research academics to
engage in videography. The first reason sounds obvious or technically logical. Some
researchers already do research in which they collect and record visual material;
developing a videography is just going a step further in their research design and
presentation process. Nonetheless, the mere technical expertise to collect visual data are
Arts and the Market
Vol. 5 No. 1, 2015
pp. 73-102
© Emerald Group Publishing Limited
2056-4945
DOI 10.1108/AM-01-2014-0002
Received 7 January 2014
Revised 27 April 2014
Accepted 28 April 2014
The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at:
www.emeraldinsight.com/2056-4945.htm
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not a sufficient reason to jump into the project of making a videography about one’s
research. There should also be something that is better expressed and shown visually.
The second reason refers to the multiplication of possibilities for research topics and
content allowed by both the production of visual materials and the availability of new
and simple-to-use devices for the researcher who wants to capture and edit visual data.
Increasingly, anyone with a smartphone has a device to capture high definition
video and anyone with a computer, tablet, or smartphone has a device capable of
editing this material.
The third reason corresponds to the emerging duality of criteria for the evaluation
of academics’ performance. Even though researchers have to be quantitatively
productive, at the same time they are requested by their universities and by national
evaluations for career promotion, to acquire scientific radiance and brightness.
Obviously, this should be within their academic field; logically, this should be also
regarding their students; and supremely, this should concern the whole citizenship
by disseminating their research to the public and thereby demonstrating how
well they serve society. This general request for scientific radiance is represented
most often by academics through the production of popularized articles in
business newspapers, articles about current problems diffused in daily newspapers,
broadcast interviews with journalists, explanations about their research and
results on their web site, driving more internet traffic to the University general web
site, and so forth. And although this intellectual influence and brilliance is a
more difficult element to quantify, evaluators will work – as they have previously
done – on how to measure it (e.g. quotations, citation scores, number of requests on
Google scholar).
Facing this emerging demand, researchers should have a great interest in thinking
about videography, especially as dissemination outlets proliferate off-line and on-line,
with the great ability to: be accessible whenever the audience wants to see it – and not
only at a conference locale and during the furtive time of presenting, exacerbated by
multiple simultaneous sessions – and wherever they are (at the University, at their
home, at their office, on the train); be available for viewing as many times as the
audience wishes play and replay the film; be easily promoted by the audience who can
relay links to their peers and friends – expanding the core academic audience to a
broader constituency; become multicultural inasmuch as visual products can communicate
in the native language of the audience; and if the distribution outlet chosen has options
allowing viewers to express their opinions (e.g. “share,” “like,” comments), offer the
opportunity to obtain feedback from the general and targeted audiences, and the research
participants themselves. This possible feedback may lead to triggering further research
themes and ideas for the researcher.
The fourth reason is based on the simple and compelling evidence that visual data
represent more powerful and effective means for disseminating ideas and insights.
Even for presenting the results of experiments, as Dan Ariely’s videos demonstrate,
video can be a highly effective and engaging medium. It is proving a compelling
medium in corporate ethnographic research (Belk, 2014). In contrast to writing
manuscripts, the visual mode adds a dramatic effect to the presentation of research
questions, results, and conclusions. As Stephens (1998) observes:
Moving images use our senses more effectively than do black lines of type stacked on white
pages. In a video there is so much more to see, not to mention hear. Moving images can cut in,
cut away, dance around, superimpose, switch tone, or otherwise change perspective (p. xi).
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A key reason for the big success of cinema over the past hundred plus years is its
ability to move audiences and to demonstrate ideas more compellingly than the printed
word alone. A comparable revolution with the internet, in moving from words to a more
and more visual form, has taken place rapidly.
The fifth reason is perhaps a more unconventional one, but also an appealing one for
researchers in marketing and consumer research. Let us remember how exceptional
and irregular the project of the “Consumer Behavior Odyssey” was when it began
(Belk, 1991; Belk et al., 1989; Wallendorf and Belk, 1987). But, let us also have a look at
all the renewal it brought to the way to do research (e.g. Bradshaw and Brown, 2008).
As explained by the principal actors of this odyssey (Belk, 2011a), its purpose was to
change the way people do research, to open new methods and topics, and to alleviate
the boredom of the formulaic and standardized way of conducting research in the
marketing and consumer research fields. As explained Harold Kassarjian who
participated on the Odyssey (Belk, 2011a), it was an opportunity to do another thing
entirely, to introduce some interest and excitement into consumer research which had
become a series of small experimental studies of consumers as information processors
in the 1980s. Following the same feeling that consumer and marketing researcher are
becoming more and more standardized and restrictive rather than being a field where
innovations are possible, videography is perhaps the current way for researchers to
express their desire to complement their writing obligations with something different
and to bring back new motivations for doing their work. Perhaps, the initiative is to
reinstate pleasure in their research, or a way to go beyond the standard, but obtuse,
manner of most academic writing by offering a new way to disseminate their conclusions
and be more effective in the process of doing so. Thus we feel that videography can be
another revolution in consumer research after the Consumer Behavior Odyssey: an
artistic revolution? It will be highly satisfying if the final result of emerging interest in
videography as a way to present research generates enough positive response and
encourages further methodological and conceptual innovation for consumer and
marketing researchers, as was the case with the Consumer Behavior Odyssey.
Even if videography presents many advantages, as discussed above, this new way
to present and disseminate research implies that academics need to change some of
their habits and acquire new skills. First, this paper discusses why and how
videography has emerged in consumer and marketing research, and insists on why
videography seems henceforth relevant and obvious for marketing research in the arts
sector. Second, we discuss what videography implies for the epistemological posture
and the methodologies for constructing a research project by the individual researcher
either specialist of arts marketing or not. We choose not to describe the process for
making a videography (Figure 1) since it is a bit technical, but readers may have access
to helpful sources elsewhere (e.g. Barbash and Taylor, 1997; Hampe, 2007; Heath et al.,
2010; Rabiger, 2009). Finally, our conclusion interrogates how becoming visual and
Visual data
collection
Data
analysis
Video
production
Video
diffusion Figure 1.
Steps in consumer
videography
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artistic producers may have repercussions on academic practices and ambitions at the
field research level.
II. Why and how has videography emerged in consumer and marketing
research?
This section is dedicated to understanding the reasons why videography is becoming
so interesting for researchers in marketing and consumer behavior.
A. A topical, technical and demand evolution
1. Consumption as a subject of growing importance for understanding contemporary
society. In recent years, consumers and consumption have become a hot topic in the
social sciences and humanities. This new topic of research interests numerous disciplines
including: sociology (Arvidsson, 2006; Lury, 2004; Ritzer, 2001; Sassatelli, 2007; Slater,
1997; Zelizer, 2005; Zukin, 2004); architecture (Klingmann, 2007); geography (Hudson,
2005; Mansvelt, 2005); anthropology (Douglas and Isherwood, 1979; Miller, 1998); history
(Brewer and Trentmann, 2006; Brewer and Trentmann, 2006; Cohen, 2003; Lears, 1994);
marketing (Ekström and Brembeck, 2004; Ekström and Glans, 2011; Schroeder and
Salzer-Mörling, 2006); journalism (Frank, 1999); psychology (Kasser and Kanner, 2004);
philosophy (Lipovetsky and Roux, 2003); religion (Schmidt, 1995; Wuthnow, 1995);
economics (Schor, 1998); and English (Twitchell, 1996, 1999, 2004, 2007).
At the same time, our current heroes, fools, and villains have become consumers and
corporations with film and video subjects such as the Enron Affair (Gibney, 2006), the
World Bank (Black, 2001), Sprite and MTV (Goodman, 2001), consumer overspending
(Simon, 1997), advertising tactics (Boihem, 1997; Goodman and Dretzin, 2005), stealth
marketing (Borte, 2010), the pathology of the corporation (Akhbar and Abbott, 2004),
sneakers (De Longville and Leone, 2005), and sweatshop labor (Jhally, 2003) as the
documentary focus. This increasing emphasis on consumers and corporations is not
limited to unknown filmmakers. A number of famous filmmakers including Michael
Moore, Agnes Varda, Morgan Spurlock, and Davis Guggenheim, are turning to
business and consumers as focal topics, as a look at a short list of some recent
productions and documentaries distributed in our corner cinemas proves: Bowling for
Columbine (Moore, 2002), Supersize Me (Spurlock, 2004), Thank you for Smoking
(Reitman, 2005), An Inconvenient Truth (Gunthert, 2006), A Darker Side of Fair (Leslie,
2004), Les Glaneurs et la Glaneuse (Varda, 2000), The Corporation (Akhbar and Abbott,
2004), Why Don’t Consumers Behave Ethically? (Eckhardt et al., 2006). Furthermore,
approximately 25 percent of theatrical offerings each year are now documentaries.
This is beginning to look like the golden age for documentary films.
2. Technology changes the social status and responsibility of visuals. On one hand,
there have been many technological advances in video hardware and software, and the
learning curves for them are not at all steep. With digital cameras and non-linear
editing programs, producing and editing video has become cheap and easy. Cameras
are smaller, higher resolution, and more versatile each year. Such technology is now
available to everyone as attested by the many videos on sites like YouTube, Metacafe
and Vimeo. The first consequence is the increasing number of video producers and the
omnipresence of recording of everyday consumer life. Anyone can use tools not
specifically devoted to film recording like smartphones, to collect videos about
everyday life, wherever and whenever she/he wants. The second consequence is the
ubiquitousness of cameras and camcorders. It is now possible to more or less
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unobtrusively record without disturbing the people around, especially in tourism
settings, cultural events, sports competitions, children’s performances and shows,
and so forth. The number and diversity of recording opportunities is increasingly
expanding.
On the other hand, there are ethical cautions to note about such recording by the
user community. Such issues include concealed cameras for managing security in
public places, but also the observation of crowd phenomena in urban places or
consumer flows in retail settings (again, often with security cameras) in order to avoid
provoking human anxiety. This kind of recording provides the often legal ability to
make and record observations on a broad social scale. But it also raises questions about
our surveillance society (Ball, 2009). As we will discuss, gaining subject permissions if
the video is to be shown publically is imperative.
3. The increase in audience demand for videos. When researchers need to
disseminate their conclusions and results, their primary audience is normally their
academic peers. But, as Schroeder (2002) posits, the information age is characterized by
the omnipresence of the visual. We are now living in a world of images and visual
consumption where what is important is to catch attention, to express meaning, and to
systematically document our lived experiences. In this new economic era, relevant
considerations for consumers are the ability to express oneself visually, the number of
people who view your creations, and, consequently, the capacity to be connected and
interconnected in order to increase traffic and attention to your visual identity; this is
one of the main qualities of social media like Facebook and Twitter (Drenton, 2012;
Pascoe et al., 2010).
Since the image is primary, everyone is encouraged to become an image maker both
during her/his private life and during her/his work time. This new urgency for visual
consumer and marketing researchers and managers drives some to seriously wonder
whether a cinema studies degree is the new MBA (Van Ness, 2005). The skills for
producing images for multimedia and multisensory messages with free-floating
signifiers are useful assets for consumer researchers who want to enhance their
research impact thanks to the rich creative possibilities of the visual. For some
examples we can look to Gregory Bateson and Margaret Mead’s ethnographic video
(http://anth.alexanderstreet.com/) on Alexander Street or the 2010 Academy Award
Winning film was Logorama, a French brand critique animation by Alaux et al. (2010).
Consequently, even academic researchers have to become image makers. As a proof, we
note that more and more academic journals and events are now opening to
videographic creations. There have been special DVD and internet film issues of
marketing and consumer behavior journals that include Consumption Markets and
Culture, International Journal of Culture, Tourism, and Hospitality, and Qualitative
Marketing Research, as well as supplementary online visual material in journals like the
Journal of Consumer Research.
Complementary to this dissemination of videos, researchers face other audiences
whom they must interest and perhaps convince. It is well appreciated that a picture is
worth than thousands of words. But, when you have to teach students born and raised
with new technologies (the digital natives), the ability to conduct courses mixing
traditional conference formats and videography is a huge bonus. In the same vein,
researchers should consider the potential of the visuals for matching audiences’ levels
of understanding, regarding their personal and professional backgrounds and
centers of interest. Visualizing results is a particularly useful way for popularizing
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as well as for aiding the consultancy side of research before corporate clients, and for
convincing policy makers of the relevance of funding their research project (e.g. Martin
et al., 2006).
B. A creative insight for art marketing research
Videography is an appealing alternative presentation genre because it gathers two
qualities. The first quality is that visuals and video-based materials produced and
collected can represent a compelling data collection vehicle. For example, when vom
Lehn (2010) used videos of visitors into museums and galleries, the principle is to use
videos and visual material of naturalistic situations as the principal data (Heath et al.,
2010). Second quality, visuals and videos can be used to create videos for sharing and
disseminating the research and results, but with the vivid chance to make
aesthetization and thrilling effects when presenting research conclusions (e.g. Cayla
and Arnould, 2013). Going further the first quality of being a research tool and input to
data collection, videography is also an opportunity for the researcher to make “a-playwithin-a-play” with a powerful medium to communicate research to the academic
community and beyond.
As a proof of this disseminating power, recall the case of the research book
“Sidewalk” by Mitchell Duneir (1999) about black men who sell old books and
magazines on New York streets. At the very beginning, even though Duneir’s
ethnographic approach was used, Ovie Carter’s photographs are critically available in
the book as a printed output material. But, the book became so a best seller as the
author explained latter (Duneir, 2006), that at the end, the author had the opportunity to
go further and to create a video. Now, this DVD version of “Sidewalk” is as well an
alternative to the book for disseminating the research findings and a whole set for
learning how to manage an ethnographic research project since some complementary
videos were added (Duneir et al., 2007).
Nevertheless, the decision to create a film as an output of the research is most of the
time, a choice made at the very initial steps of the research process. If the researcher
wants to create a scholarly film, he or she has to be able to story-tell the research in
a truly persuasive way, which should be anticipated before beginning the ethnographic
phase of data collection. This includes looking for visually compelling informants, Broll material for setting the stage and cut-aways, and paying particular attention to
composition and sound quality. In this academic perspective, videography refers to the
choice of an ethnographic methodology for research with the initial intention to share
and disseminate the results through the creation of a video which allows more effective
storytelling and a compelling selection of more persuasive input materials collected
with the camcorder.
C. The advantages of using video-methods for consumer research
The main advantages of using video-methods for consumer research include the
richness of the data collected, the enlarged possibilities for analyzing the data, and the
expansion of the possible research topics.
1. Enriching the data collected: contextualization, authenticity and storytelling. A core
quality of visual media is to provide more information that is more readily
comprehended. This superior richness of the data collected are a consequence of the
opportunity for greater contextualization of the behaviors and comments recorded.
Visual data can generally provide a better understanding of product and service usage,
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functions, associations, and rituals, since video allows the collection of more thorough
and dynamic observations within the field site. This can offer opportunities for
a better appraisal of the socio-cultural and market context of product purchase and
consumption at both a macro level and at a micro level, such as analyzing the processes
of negotiations. For example, the consumption of football entails much symbolism,
which is often connected with the colors and paraphernalia that fans parade and use in
a series of rituals both within and outside stadiums (Derbaix et al., 2003). Visual media
are more appropriate to capture such phenomena than textual means.
Complementary to the contextualization, visual data create impressions of greater
authenticity and spontaneity since the researcher (or sometimes the participant) is
recording actual behaviors. They are not speaking about behaviors; they are observing
and storing them for analysis. Visual data capture behaviors as they occur, without any
interpretation, rationalized adjustment or post hoc explanation. This is especially
valuable when researchers collect visual data in situations where discursive biases may
be important (e.g. sensitive topics). Since visual data are focussed on behaviors rather
than discourses, this kind of data reduces or avoids the bias of formal declarations and
also allows comparisons of what people say and what they do.
Moreover, the purpose of using images is to tell stories. Imagine for instance a
researcher, who asks people to make some visual collages or to bring with them
some personal photographs or some visual ads from newspapers and magazines.
The researcher can then use such visual material in order to help participants tell about
their past experiences or imagine tales for explaining their choices through little stories
and narrative exercises (known as visual elicitation with one version being the Zaltman
Metaphor Elicitation Technique, e.g. Venkatesh et al., 2010; Zaltman, 2003; Zaltman and
Zaltman, 2008). In accordance with the great potential for storytelling approaches, the
further visual step is for the researcher to make her/his own storytelling of what she/he
observed and captured (Cayla and Arnould, 2013).
2. Increasing the analysis precision: reduced-speed and replay. Once recorded,
videographic data present opportunity for the researcher: it is possible to play and
replay the data as many times as necessary for a very deep and precise analysis.
Therefore, even if a first and second vision give a good overview of the situation, the
main characters, the actions, and the elements of the setting, deeper complementary
examinations of the data are possible so that, ideally, nothing is lost or forgotten.
If researchers desire it, they may use ethological methods. Such methods allow them
to describe the behavior they analyze in a very detailed manner (Lorentz, 1981). For
example, this means that researchers may focus on each different and precise act of the
whole behavior sequence studied. In such a situation, each of these “actoms” – which is
the minimal unit of a behavior – could be registered on a specific document, an
“ethogram,” and could be counted and noted at the precise moment and context of its
occurrence. This kind of very precise and quantitative protocol of analysis represents a
complementary investigation to the holistic and ethnographic investigation (Petr, 2004).
Today, software specially dedicated to this kind of ethological analysis is available
(e.g. Noldus Observer, MAXQDA, N’Vivo, AtlasTi) and regularly used for giving
ethnographic studies, including visual materials which can be coded within such programs.
These tools as well as quantitative methods are very helpful when researchers
are looking to theorize and help surface new concepts. Theory-driven consumer
videography is an experimental medium. To reach this conceptual aim, it is important
to position the research film in a body of work that relates to other particular research
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in its topical domain: this is a research film and not only a documentary. Though
citations (textual, narrative, visual), by including diagrams, by hinting at or by offering
homage to other theorists, by induction from video or, conversely and complementarily,
by explicit linkages between data and extant enabling theory, the theory-driven
videographer may help or challenge the audience to think about broader principles
than the concrete instance that the film depicts. Every consumer research film
should potentially and ideally make a lasting contribution to our understanding of
consumption.
3. Expanding the topics: intimate, social, and historic. Visual data collection allows
expanding the possible topics for researchers in three main ways. First, these data
collection techniques may help researchers to enter the consumers’ personal and group
spaces of intimacy, especially if participants agree to capture themselves in images
about their behaviors and rituals for creating their identities (e.g. Aterianus-Owenga,
2010; Bonche, 1999; Rouch, 1959) or about their possessions and home order (e.g. Belk
et al., 2006), or their collegiate drinking or their truck driving, or their coffee drinking
(Sunderland and Denny, 2007). Recording digital videographic data offers the potential
to store in situ behaviors indefinitely. This material is consequently available to be
shown during the presentation of the results for illustration and demonstration,
sometimes after pixelization of faces for preserving participants’ anonymity), and for
further historical research – as discussed below – or for complementary research
relying on non-visual data. This material offers also the opportunity to do further
visual elicitation since videos can support and enrich discussion with informants and
for member checks later to get informant feedback on researcher conclusions.
Second, CCTV camcorder recordings captured inside commercial spaces offer the
opportunity to observe interactions between consumers. Some recordings allow
capturing data at a meta-level for analysis – i.e., the social scale of naturally occurring
interactions. For instance, interactions between individuals at the inner-group level as
well as at the inter-group level may be observed and analyzed in the context of a brand
fest (Martin et al., 2006). This interaction perspective on observation offers new
research possibilities, including the use of such film for presentation. Another example
used CCTV camera data to discover why consumers were avoiding purchasing at a
display rack near the entrance to Bloomingdale’s department store in New York City
(Underhill, 1999). Analysis revealed that consumers would stop to look at merchandise
on the rack, but were often brushed against by other shoppers passing by. For both
males and females one or two such “butt brushes” was enough to make the looker move
on. It also suggested a simple solution in moving the rack away from the entrance.
Third, the ability to store and replay recordings of behaviors allows historical
research and comparisons. As Pfeiffer (1982) demonstrated, the use of even prehistoric
visual data offers a unique opportunity to engage in comparative research, going back
potentially tens of thousands of years. This offers the possibility of understanding
consumption and marketing activity in diverse historical and prehistorical contexts
(e.g. Zhao and Belk, 2008a, b). On the methodological side, the quality of these
comparisons is also linked to the ability to analyze past documents and events with our
current knowledge of their impact. This requires cultural knowledge of not only the
time but also the place. For example, Morris et al. (1979) studied the Greek origin of nonverbal gestures in Southern Italy by comparing photographs of people in contemporary
Italy and Greece to depictions of certain gestures in ancient Greek literature. They
found that a head-tossing gesture called an ananeuo whose meaning could be traced to
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Homer’s Illiad. Today it is found in Greece and in those parts of Southern Italy visited
by Greek sailors, but not further inland. Verbal traces of the sailors had largely
disappeared, but non-verbal traces have persisted for more than 2,000 years. Collett
(1984) reports similar gestures in Naples that can be traced to ancient Greek Pottery.
The study of non-verbal gestures afforded by video recording of behavior involves
learning new non-verbal languages just as we might learn verbal languages (Kendon,
2009; Goodwin, 2013). We can appreciate the advantage of video recording when
informants use embodied referential terms like this, that, or those which would appear
opaque in audio-only transcripts (Hindmarsh and Heath, 2000). Aside from interview
contexts, naturalistic videographic recording of behaviors can reveal a variety of
proxemics and kinesthetic data about human interaction that occurs at an entirely nonverbal level (Heath et al., 2010). For example, while the study of “market pitching” or
“patter merchandising” might seem to be highly verbal, the use of photography and
videography adds a great deal of detail in the gaze, body posture, and non-verbal
displays of interest, acceptance, and rejection on the part of would-be customers in the
audience (see Clark and Pinch, 1992, 1995, 2009, 2012; Clark et al., 2003; Pinch and
Clark, 1986; Sherry, 1988). Clark and Pinch (2009) have applied these techniques in
contexts as diverse as TV infomercials, auctions, street vending, and business-tobusiness selling (see also Maysles et al., 1968; Mulkay and Howe, 1994; Robinson, 1998).
In another historical analysis, Belk and Ger (1995, 2005) examined the rise of
consumer culture at two overlapping periods of time in late Ming China and Golden
Age Dutch cultures based on artwork of the two periods and places. They found similar
explosions of interest in collecting art among the nouveaux riches of both cultures, but
also found considerable cultural differences in the sorts of art created in these cultures.
In the same vein, documentary films themselves offer another opportunity for historic
research. They are nearly as old as film itself and form a different sort of historical
archive (Belk, 2011b). Archives of corporate public relations films from the twentieth
Century can tell us a great deal about how companies sought to portray their
employees, dealers, and customers (Prelinger, 1996, 2010). Many of these films are now
available on YouTube which provides a vast archive hosting more than 150 million
films as of this writing.
D. The advantages of using video-methods for presenting conclusions
Besides the role of video in aiding research (e.g. Heath et al., 2010; von Lehn, 2010), we
might also ask what videography can add to presentations. There are three main
advantages of video presentation: it makes the results of research available for
a broader audience thanks to expanding distribution outlets, it gives the audience both
cognitive and emotional information, and it potentially offers the opportunity in our
digital era, to let the audience interact with the content by obtaining just those details
that interest them.
At the same time we should recognize that having video presentations in mind may
change the nature of fieldwork. It is likely that the researcher will gather more “B-roll”
or contextual information in the form of establishing shots (showing the location) and
cut-aways (showing objects that come up or are referenced in the film). The researcher
is also likely to seek more action behavioral footage because he or she realizes that the
“talking heads” of interviews make for boring video, at least without cut-aways, quick
cuts, and multiple camera angles. All this can be good. At the same time, unlike written
work, in data collection for video it matters not only what is said but how it is said.
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Like a fiction film director, the researcher may look for informants who present
themselves well to the camera, are articulate, and have more dramatic or visually
compelling things to say. And the researcher may get caught up in technical issues of
filming and lose some concentration on data collection itself. Issues like lighting, time of
day, sound quality, camera angles, lenses, filters, and so on may be distracting not only
for the researcher but for informants as well. If additional staffs are used to take care of
such technical issues, this may prove more intimidating for the informant who can feel
more special, but also that they have an audience rather than merely interacting with
the researcher who has gained their confidence (Duneir, 2006). Thus, video is not the
answer to every research question and context. But we believe it remains greatly underutilized given its potential advantages.
1. The expansion of distribution outlets. In response to the increasing demand for
visual presentations, more and more distribution outlets are now available for the
researcher. We are not speaking only about journal articles, textbooks, and books that
offer links for downloading complementary documents, or about special “Resonant
Representations” issues of peer-reviewed journals – e.g. Consumption Marketing and
Culture; Journal of Qualitative Market-Research; International Journal of Culture,
Tourism and Hospitality Research; Academy of Marketing Science Review – or about
Film festivals (e.g. the ACR Film Festivals, the Hot Docs Film Festival in Toronto, the
French “Cinema Science” Festival supported by the CNRS, the ASEAN Science Film
Festival for diffusion of edutainment and science films, the “SCINEMA” Festival of
Science Film in Australia, the International Science Film Festival, and many others).
Rather, we are referring here both off-line media of DVD and film and broadcasting
and to on-line distribution outlets and possibilities. Internet distribution refers to the
screening of videos on dedicated web sites and platforms like Dailymotion, Kewego,
Facebook, Myspace, Veoh, Vimeo, Youtube, and others. Some of these on-line outlets
require passwords that reduce the audience to those who have already the information
about the availability and content of the videos. But, conversely, other on-line outlets
offer access to anyone, without registering on the web site or the social network.
And, the latter outlets allow accessing videos without giving any information, which
helps everybody surfing on the web to quickly and simply discover the videos and
share them with friends, transmit links to their contacts, evaluate (e.g. like), and react
(e.g. comment or parody). Finally, new distribution outlets are available with special
exhibitions during academic conferences like when the Academy of Management’s
“video village” exhibitions.
To conclude, visual data should be defined as a mediation that supports the
researcher’s desire to present research results as effectively as possible. Facing the
incredible expansion of outlets, the researcher has more choices to match the types of
audience she/he wants to reach: fellow researchers, students, practitioners, grant
donors, academic Congress audiences, journalists, policy makers, citizens, customers,
and others.
2. The potential for thrilling effects. Visual presentation offers the incredible
opportunity to creatively shape the new content we have to transmit as researchers.
Complementary to sparing the content of purely cognitive knowledge, visual
presentation offers the ability to transmit all the extras: sensory cues, human feelings,
sensitive portrayals, and various audio and video embellishments. These extras are
what give our audiences understanding and the ability to emotionally respond to the
content we disseminate. Belk (1998), and Sherry and Schouten (2002) are among those
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who advocate the idea of making the conclusions we distribute more emotional and
“resonant” for the audiences, and videography has this potential. This resonance is
obtained thanks to three elements to be detailed further: the control of the content –
when researchers select and choose some types of shots rather than others; the style of
video – when researchers work on the continuity and pace of the sequences and
consequently define the type of the visual storytelling; and the atmosphere and
narrative tone – when researchers select the music and the kind of narrative presence
(e.g. alternatives to the “voice of God” narration so often used in documentaries).
The resulting whole is partially described as follows.
The editing process: advices for beginners:
(1) The post-field editing step: viewing, reviewing, re-reviewing and selecting
materials:
• log and capture;
• sequencing in timeline;
• adding music and voiceovers;
• transitions and special effects;
• titles, intertitles, subtitles and credits;
• exporting finished video; and
• for all those steps, a storyboard or script may help a great deal! Our advise:
start with writing a script.
(2) The post-production steps: making the videography:
• produce a few title slides to set the provisional structure of the film;
• select and edit scenes from the raw material (contextual elements,
observational info and interview chunks);
• (re-)write and record the narrative voice and adjust the length of the selected
scenes;
• insert a few quotes/pictures from the field or/and from the literature to
support your findings;
• add subtitling (when needed);
• add background music; and
• fine tuning (both scenes and sound).
3. The interactive possibilities. When videography follows the principle of interactive
presentation, the audience can interact with the content by clicking on elements
presented in the video. For instance, there may be information about the people, the
places, the methodology, the past research conclusions, and many supplementary
details not in the main body of the film. This interactive approach implies that the
researcher has provided the option to access such details. Even if the audience does not
see these details when viewing most films in a fixed linear manner, they can potentially
have access to these complements when they are made available by the videographer.
In that case they can access only the content they want to see and hear and in the order
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that is most useful to them (see Belk, 2010). This requires simple internal hypertext
links – which represent just few megabits of storage – or provides links to external
visual data warehouse sites – when other video files are stored there.
4. The compulsory standards of quality presentation for increasing acceptance level at
film festivals. Making a videography comprises four major steps: collecting, analyzing,
editing, and distributing. Rather than analysing the step by step procedures, and since
the analysis of the videographic data refers to the ethnographic process that is already
well known and described in detail in other places (e.g. Belk et al., 2013), we will focus
on the standards of presentation quality.
In order to help viewers understand what you have produced, it is useful to apply some
basic rules about the methodology needed to read and produce images (Kozinets and Belk,
2006). Complimentary to these general rules, we refer the reader to the general standards
of quality required for scholarly films and videography for academic audiences as
described by Kozinets and Belk (2006). These standards refer to the “Four Ts” which are
being “Topical,” “Theoretical,” “Theatrical” and “Technical” (see Table I).
Name of
the criteria Details
Topical To what extent is it on topic?
Is the videography centered on a topic that is of interest to consumer research and
consumer researchers?
The difference from “vanilla” documentary
Is there a good choice of field or filming site?
Has the field site yielded good quality data and informants?
Is the videography directly related to topics and problematic of the consumer
research or marketing research community? (Conversely, an unsuitable topic refers
to political or social explorations or exposes; when little to no consumption context,
and tributes to a favorite academic)
Theoretical To what extent does it contribute to [abstract] knowledge?
Does the videography contribute in a compelling way to our understanding of the
consumption phenomenon it treats?
Often most difficult
How can films convey the world of theory?
How do I present theory cinematographically in a dramatically compelling manner?
Theory-driven videography is still in a state of flux
Theatrical To what extent is it dramatically effective?
Is the videography dramatically effective?
Often counterbalanced with theoretical criterion
Is there an unfolding “story”?
Is there dramatic tension, mystery followed by a satisfying conclusion?
The application of filmic standards of quality
Standards are emotional connection, excitement, and “resonance.” The video should
not necessarily shine like Spider-Man 3 but it should appear intriguing, e.g. what are
the mysteries behind pet ownership? What bizarre rituals underlie car buying? What is
going on in the world of online dating? How can the craftsmanship of film and story
help us to tell these tales in original and compelling ways?
Technical To what extent is it audio visually competent?
Are sufficiently high “production values” evident?
Did the filmmaker show some (budding?) mastery of the craft of filmmaking?
This has a number of aspects, which we can judge and describe separately
Table I.
The “Four T”
standards of quality
in videography
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If we focus on the example of 12 years of the ACR film festival, we can say that the
films rejected often failed on one or more of these criteria. Others were rejected because
they had a teaching rather than research objective. And still others, while excellent in
each of the four criteria, were purely fictional films with hired actors playing parts
rather than more naturalistic research participants acting without any sort of script.
Conversely, the major types of films accepted for ACR Film Festivals concerned
those focussed on an issue or event (e.g. Twitter, counterfeit consumption, stay-at-home
dads), those dealing with public consumption celebrations (e.g. “Black Friday,”
“Christmas in Japan,” “Burning Man”), those examining a consumption phenomenon
(e.g. culture jamming, football fandom, experiencing racial discrimination, love hotels in
Japan), and those helping to make an unfamiliar event familiar to the audience
(e.g. Indian weddings, Arab Gulf gender segregation, vinyl record enthusiasts in Brazil).
As will be noted from these examples, even though the main ACR Film Festival is held in
North America, many of the films focus on consumption phenomena elsewhere in the
world. Film presents an excellent medium for crossing national boundaries and helping
audiences to better understand consumption elsewhere in the world.
The reviewers for ACR Film Festivals as well as special video issues of journals are
all experienced filmmakers themselves. For the ACR Film Festival, reviewers are given
the 4T criteria along with an explanation like that in Table I and asked to evaluate the
film entries based on these criteria. As with reviewers of potential print articles, there is
some idiosyncrasy in how these criteria are applied. But some generalizations can be
offered. “Voice of God” narration is received less favorably than narratives that emerge
from the participants themselves. Trying to copy written paper formats with too much
theory and references is negatively received. Creativity and humor are appreciated, but
do not substitute for a solid storyline with scholarly import. “Talking heads” video with
excessive focus on interviews is boring and not well received. Beyond these few
generalizations, innovation and experimentation is appreciated by reviewers. There is
no single dogma and new and interesting topics and ways of presenting visual material
do well in the review (“jurroring”) process.
III. What should be considered before beginning a videography research?
This section first presents the different technical and ethical aspects a researcher
should consider in making a videography on his/her research subject. In addition, this
section suggests that a researcher should move from her/his customary way of
thinking about research when she/he initiates a research likely to result in a
videography. In fact, similarly to knowing that a research paper will follow from the
analysis influences how we deal with the data and prepare them for inclusion in the
paper, the decision to make a film as an output from the analysis impacts the way data
collection and data analysis, as noted above.
A. When researcher should not use videography?
Before starting training in order to gain some video skills and knowhow, the researcher
should be aware that there are also reasons not to do videography. We describe five
main drawbacks of using video-based methods for doing, analyzing and presenting
research. The first constraint refers to the technical difficulty of capturing what the
researcher wants. For instance, when his subject is about the interaction and facial
expressions between a mother and her children, it is often difficult to capture this visual
data because the mother may put her children on her shoulder or crouch down in order
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to be close to her children. In such naturalistic situations, researchers face many
technical difficulties. We should not interrupt the interaction to have the subjects
replay the scene and obtain a better footage. Video recordings are not well adapted
when the researcher needs to be “inside” the interaction. It at the very least requires
ingenuity to gain video data in such situations, here perhaps using small wearable
cameras on both the mother and child. Video recordings may also be a poor option for
the single researcher who wants to capture experiences where multiple angles are
necessary. A single researcher also cannot easily operate a camcorder and conduct an
interview at the same time. Having attempted this, we have found that there is a good
chance of being out of frame or not having adequate sound in such circumstances –
things that a separate camera operator can monitor. Our main recommendation
regarding the technical limitations of the video format is to try test recordings with
camcorders in different positions in order to have some assurance that they can provide
useful data.
A second problem involves the obtrusive nature of camcorder – even if it is small
and discrete – and the recording team. A small team of three is optimal: one for the
visual, one for the sound, one to direct and interview if that is the planned format.
A director can also be alert for interesting but unanticipated events. Such a team may
appear as obtrusive and may bias what people say and how they behave, especially
when working in enclosed areas or with a limited number of informants. In today’s
society governed by pictures and images, many people are afraid of being filmed and
will refuse, although they may be willing to participate in the study if they are not
filmed or just voice-recorded.
The third drawback is that there is a certain amount of reactivity caused by the
presence of a video camera. Although the presence of the camera is often forgotten or
ignored after a short period of time, some people are extremely camera shy and find it
difficult to ignore its presence. In other instances it is simply considered inappropriate.
For example in many cultures, although not all, the presence of a camcorder is welcome
at a wedding, but not at a funeral. It may intrude upon the grief rituals too much in the
latter case.
The fourth barrier to conducting videography is the time-consuming nature of
collecting and analyzing visual data. Things have greatly changed in comparison to the
first videos created by the ethnographers like the French anthropologist Jean Rouch
(1955, 1959, 1961) or when Robert Flaherty filmed Nanook of the North. When Flaherty
left Toronto to film Nanook in June, 1920, he and his team travelled for six weeks by
rail, canoe, schooner, and dog-sled, carrying 75,000 feet of film, an electric light plant
and projector, two Akeley cameras, and a printing machine. The digital revolution and
better transportation make such a project much easier today. Nonetheless, the very
time-consuming dimension of videos during both the data collection and analysis steps
(e.g. coding and categorizing) are only preludes to the more substantial production time
for the final video. Just to give an idea, shooting ratios are seldom less than ten to one,
meaning ten times as much material is shot as winds up being used in the final video.
Even after analysis and conceiving of the final form of a film, editing five minutes of
finished film can still take many hours.
A fifth limitation involves two possible dangers of presenting information through a
video format. On one hand, the video presentation does not allow the viewers to react
and ask questions as they might with a written or oral report. Unlike the questions that
typically follow a live researcher presentation of a paper, the video format may engage
audience in a more passive way that does not allow them to interrogate the filmmaker
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directly. At the same time, the video format may lead the audience to be more accepting
of the content and ideas expressed in the video. Compared to written and face-to-face
presentation, when results are delivered via video the images may appear more “real”
than mere words. This can annihilate the critical viewer perspective of attendees, and
lessen their cognitive ability to react with critical visual literacy to the content. Marcel
Mauss (1926, p. 6) warns against such a danger: “ne pas croire qu’on sait parce qu’on a
vu” (“Do not imagine that you know something only thanks what you’ve seen”)! This
implies more and more scientific rigor from the researcher, as detailed in the next
section.
B. What does videography imply for the researcher?
As defined earlier, videography refers to “the choice of an ethnographic methodology
for a research with the initial intention to share and disseminate the results through the
creation of a video which involves storytelling and providing a compelling selection of
the more persuasive (but still representative) input materials collected with the
camcorder.” So, there is much more than dealing with the consequences of using videos
as just research input. This section develops the overall implications for the researcher
who, at the very beginning of a research project, wants to create and share a film with
scholars, students and beyond. In such a situation, if the researcher has decided to
engage in videography, she/he should be aware of the difference in epistemological
posture from positivist objectivity. In addition to objectivity film involves artistic
interpretation. The researcher must also pay attention to special ethical issues that may
arise in videography.
1. Objectivity and artistry. To introduce this point, remember that the objective of
videography is to effectively tell stories. Consequently, the video ethnographer and editor
may be considered in some ways as being more artists and storytellers than a traditional
researcher. Although Kozinets and Belk (2006) emphasize that a good videography
involves making a theoretical contribution, they also stipulate that it must adhere to high
theatrical values. Today’s audiences, brought up on cinema, television, and the internet,
have developed expectations of high production values for what they see.
The videographer necessarily must make a number of subjective judgments about
how to film through the choice of angles, focus, framing, what to shoot, what to retain,
how to transition between scenes, whether to use titles or intertitles, whether to use
voiceover and/or subtitles (when audience and informants use different languages),
whether to use music, how to pace the film, and so forth. These choices are made both
while collecting the visual data and during the analysis and filmmaking. In truth, any
research involves such selective decisions; there are just many more of them and many
more opportunities for creative visual effects in ethnographic filmmaking. Even
though we are familiar with the expression that pictures cannot lie, we believe this is an
unreasonable positivist stance that seeks to gain credence through supposed
objectivity. Instead, each time a researcher makes a decision in the image capture,
editing, and production of visual research, even unconsciously, he or she is engaging in
the process of making selective images.
Consequently, capturing and editing images implies abandoning the elusive
objectivity premises of positivist research. Researchers have to accept that becoming a
videographer implies manipulating and working with visual materials that comprise a
constructed data set (Colleyn and De Clippel, 1999; Boukala, 2009; Mitchell, 1992;
Michaud, 2002; Nichols, 1991).
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The chimera of objectivity is invalidated by three main elements:
(1) The trustworthiness of images changes through time and across social periods
(Fortini Brown, 1988). What is understood in a certain way at one time may
be appraised very differently at another time, especially after centuries
have passed.
(2) The truthfulness of visuals is linked to their availability, as recently
demonstrated when working on images presented in magazines (Brandon, 2011)
and in considering how these visuals and their display produces models about
what should be the feminine body (Geers, 2012). This is a current problem of
cultural studies based on documentaries when only few recordings about “real
life” are available. The people presented in magazines are not like the ones
actually living next door and flowing everyday through the streets of our
places, cities, and nations. As a result, the researcher is usually intent on
portraying more realistic images of consumers and their lives. This problem
may be eased by sites like YouTube, but it is not eliminated.
(3) There is opposition between documentaries and cinema verité illustrations
(Gunthert, 2010; Morel and Gervais, 2007; Winogrand, 1979). Documentaries are
guided by the intention to fulfill the journalistic mission of diffusing difficult to
access information (e.g. armed conflict, terrorism situation, unsafe situations,
VIP spaces, wilderness, and hard to access locations.) to viewers. Conversely,
illustrations have the principal aim to exercise, increase, and reinforce emotional
responses. Academic videography seeks to go beyond both of these canons and
provide interpretations of behavior or sometimes structure evidence so that
audiences can make their own interpretations. But here too storytelling objectives
introduce artistic criteria rather than some sterile notion of objectivity.
Rather than considering this as a drawback, Daston and Galison (2007) insist that
objectivity has different meanings, especially in the scientific field where it is mostly
considered as an obligation (Stengers, 1993). Accepting this subjective view of
objectivity and considering that what matters first is to be able to express reflexivity
regarding one’s influence on the research object and approach (Bourdieu, 2001), many
researchers propose that accepting and being aware of the subjective nature of
research is an opportunity for more enriching and contributing to the research project
(see Kozinets and Belk, 2006) rather than being a problem. Going beyond the objectivity
and the narrowly literal use of material in order to make interpretations allows is
necessary in any interpretive research, but is especially desirable in videographic work
(O’Sullivan, 2010). Going further with this postulate about the core quality of
subjectivity, we claim that the process of capturing, editing, and producing visual
presentations, with the power of offering more emotional resonance, represents a
further evolution necessary for extending and enriching the consumer research field. In
such situations, selecting specific visuals to create dramatic effects and to vividly
spotlight “truths” that catch the audience’s attention is a key benefit of videography.
2. From the risk of falsification to the increase of scientific rigor. Since videographic
presentations allow shaping audience reactions, the researcher has to be conscious of
this effect and be able to justify the choices made. Numerous authors have observed the
incredible power of the editing process and the conjunction of background music and
narration manipulate interpretations of the original data. The editing post-production
steps, can tell a story that emphasizes certain results and ignores others
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It is possible to tell many different stories and they all can appear to be the “truth”
and offer definitive evidence as far as the audience is concerned (Nichols, 1991;
Michaud, 2002).
During the production process of a video, the videographer is at the “center of
the images” and should be aware of her/his responsibilities. Concretely, to prevent the
danger of the falsification and partiality of her/his visual discourse, the researcher has
to bear in mind at least two main duties.
The first duty is to define exactly what they want to express and demonstrate. This
occurs at the beginning of the process, i.e. when developing the work plan (see the list
“The editing process: advices for beginners”). Following the logical design of research,
the focus should be on the theme they previously decided to work on. Following this
objective to focus on the defined theme, researchers have to identify which core
elements to record and the distinctive moments to try to capture on film or video.
Nonetheless, sometimes, driven by the chance of serendipity, something unexpected
but really captivating, valuable, and meaningful might be discovered (Van Andel and
Bourcier, 2009). If so, and if it offers more opportunities for resonance, these cues are
worthwhile to be presented to audiences and peers. In other words, it is good to have a
work plan that is neither too rigid nor too flexible. Working with too firm a plan will
favor scientific rigor and accuracy over effectiveness, while working with too loose a
plan will result in an amorphous impressionistic film that bears little resemblance to the
action observed. We advocate an intermediate stance that highlights objectivity
without forgoing the chance for capturing something original, fresh, and innovative.
The second duty is to justify what was selected and why it was framed in such a
way rather than another. This reflexivity must account for what the difference
between what is interesting and what is merely anecdotal, what is a key phenomenon
essential to the story and what is just an epiphenomenon. These decisions take place
both in choosing what to film and later in selecting what to include in the film
that results.
3. From the simplicity of capturing visual data to videographic ethics. Big Brother
research, subliminal research, spy investigations, cover-up pseudo-research, and
intentional deception, are some types of unethical practices of practitioners, both
academic and commercial. Not all unobtrusive research raises ethical issues; for
example taking water pressure readings to gauge the size of the television audiences
for football matches (as everyone watching flushes their toilets between periods) is not
particularly problematic. But the miniature nature of some of the new devices available
for recording does lead to ethical issues if people’s behavior is recorded without their
awareness or permission.
Security cameras, small hidden cameras, GPS tracking, and RFID tracking are
among the most evident practices that may lead to ethical problems, and even
more so with facial recognition software. But, the ethical problems in videography are
more expansive. They are not limited to these kinds of special devices. Even large
cameras may eventually be forgotten by consumers. An example would be consumers
who agree to have a camcorder placed in their digital video recorders to watch them
watching television (Jayasinghe and Ritson, 2013). They may stop thinking about the
presence of the camera and they may engage in intimate activity which, if viewed by
others, could lead to an invasion of their personal privacy.
To attend to these ethical issues, we recommend not only gaining consumer
permission before data collection begins, but also after. It is only after the data have
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been collected that the research participants realize what data have been collected and
can knowingly consent to its various possible uses. For this purpose we provide them
with a check list of various uses including none at all, only accessible by the
researchers, permissible to show to students and professional audiences, and
permissible for any sort of use including broadcasts.
Nevertheless there are few articles and books dealing with the ethical issues that
emerge in videographic research (but see Abrams, 2000; Angrosino, 2007). Further
ethical issues involve being true to three research objectives: the principles of sound
interpretive analysis (e.g. grounded theory); the quest for a holistic analysis that does
not distort or take things out of context; and the importance of data and method
triangulation. Considering the fact that falsification is easier in videography, the
videographer has to be particularly aware and self-critical to safeguard consumer
research deontology and the audiences’ respect.
Special care is needed in filming particularly sensitive contexts. For example, Belk et al.
(1988) found that the presence of stolen merchandise at a swap meet (flea market) they
studied required particular care in portraying and characterizing the activity at the venue.
When the researcher has to select some visual data and events rather than others, he/she
should also be aware of some of the possible techniques of manipulation and transforming
the initial meaning of some visual data into other ideas and concepts. A good safeguard
against this that also respects the research participants is to show the film to these
participants and seek their critical input. This practice is parallel to the idea of “member
checks” that help to increase the trustworthiness of qualitative studies (Lincoln and Guba,
1985). As with any other ethnographic research, the researcher is the research tool and some
self-reflexivity about how his or her presence likely influenced the interviews and
observations collected is highly recommended. Reflexivity which is essential during the data
collection step is also essential during the editing step, to ensure that academic, personal,
and creative, demands are balanced and that a “good story” can be created for the audience.
Under such conditions, although everything seems inevitably to be done during the
editing process, the purposive involvement and diligence of the researcher should be
very high. He or she has to be meticulous about the editing, sweetening, titling, scoring,
and all other tasks which contribute to the creation of the results, trying to match the
qualitative criteria imposed by interpretation-based research (e.g. Belk et al., 2013).
Kozinets and Belk (2006) suggest four criteria for evaluating visual work: topical,
theoretical, theatrical, and technical.
This means that both theoretical and creative strength are needed to carry a work
that is topically interesting and technically well-produced. To match this, Belk and
Kozinets (2005) suggest some useful sources (see Table II).
Concrete and
practical advices
Cultural perspectives
aspects
Theoretical reflections
about visual impacts
Analytical perspectives on
ways of understanding visuals
Gaskill and
Englander (1985)
Barbash and Taylor
(1997)
Floch (2000) Banks (2001)
Hampe (2007) MacDougall (1998)
Schroeder (2002) Emmison and Smith (2000)
Musburger (1999) Pink (2001)
Scott (1999) Evans and Hall (1999)
Rabiger (2009) Sherman (1998)
Sontag (1977) Rose (2001)
Wright (1999) Taylor (1994)
Van Leeuwen and Jewitt (2001)
Table II.
Some sources for
filmmaking and
visual understanding
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IV. Conclusion: prospective and reflexive questions
Our conclusion interrogates how becoming visual producers may have repercussions
on the academic practices and ambitions at the field research level.
A. For adapting marketing research ethic to videography: the development of a critical
visual literacy
A basic expectation for any sound research is rigor and trustworthiness. In addition, in
the eyes of many researchers, neutrality is considered as the premium of research
standards. In reality this is seldom if ever the case. But filmmakers make no pretense of
presenting the truth. They rather accept that there are many truths and that they are
attempting to present one, usually the one accepted by research participants and the
researcher. Every type of presentation is designed according intent to portray a specific
phenomenon in a specific way, as when we want to enhance specific results from our
investigation. There are conscious and unconscious choices that we make in order to
achieve this objective and in a more pejorative vocabulary they might be labeled
manipulation. And this unavoidable fact is especially inherent when we use visual
material, and combine visual and audiovisual material for presenting our research and
our research conclusions. In fact, the style of music used for some scenes, the rupture
from one kind of music to another style may create emotional impacts, even distortion,
affecting the way the audience will receive the message. Showing the same scene of a
walk through a shopping mall with foreboding versus happy music can entirely change
audience expectations and mood. And the situation is the same for every other element
like: sounds, pacing, additional images – from historic sources or contemporary sources
like advertising, news extracts, social networks comments, color, and so forth.
However, Heisley (2001) explains that academics have already begun to develop a
critical visual literacy, allowing them to make better critical choices and to review a
videography as easily as they are today able to review written articles. Some elements
described below about the standards of quality for visual data presentations
underscore this point. Nevertheless, a further step that surely will be done by Film
Festival in Marketing Research would probably to adjoin another standard specifically
dealing with these ethical questions. May be we can anticipate the four current
standards of quality for visual data presentations will be soon accompanied by a fifth
one: T for Trustworthiness.
B. For challenging the plurality of audiences: the foundation of an anthropological
semiology of visuals and stories
Another major challenge for effective videography is to take the perspective of the
viewers. At the anthropological level, human beings share many behaviors and
meanings despite local differences. Especially in the context of our globalized world, it
seems plausible that an understanding of the meanings of visuals and video narrative
styles (a “semiology”) is useful for the videographer. Others who have previously
worked on myths and meaning of consumption like Barthes (1957), Baudrillard (1968),
Petr (2006) and Luedicke et al. (2010) have demonstrated the quality of semiotics for
understanding the core meanings and myths of individual behaviors. Applying this
perspective to the heritage sector, Petr (2002) showed that mapping the different
meanings associated with monument visits is particularly relevant for understanding
the logics of touring the site. Since these myths are always crucial for the appreciating
the investigated phenomenon, they may be attended in order to increase the resonance
quality of videographies.
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Cultural differences between audiences are very important and represent a
tremendous, but not insurmountable, challenge for videographers. Visual language
must be understood in a very wide sense. It not only includes the issue of translation
and the addition of comments or subtitles but also refers to all audio and visual
elements that help a person from another culture to recognize what the content means
and to understand what is familiar and unfamiliar about another human being’s gaze
and behavior.
Consequently, a major challenge in disseminating research presented in a
videographic format is communicating to culturally diverse audiences. There is never a
unique right or exclusive answer to the question of the meaning of a particular visual.
There are always different possible interpretations, even debates, about the different
aspects (e.g. colors, actors, comments, background music, and order of appearance of
the main participants). This can be an outcome that is specifically planned in a film
intended to provoke its audience. But, at the same time, there is no unique privileged
reading. We only can posit that messages are, with some certainty more or less
captured and received by audiences in the ways more or less intended by the
researcher. The auteurial perspective of the filmmaker as the sole meaning maker is
dying in an era of active audiences who discern their own meanings regardless of the
filmmaker’s intent. We simply want to avoid misunderstandings based on ambiguity,
cultural biases, and ineptitude.
C. A new boundary in consumer research: more artistic and creative research
General editing steps involve such broad possibilities for combining styles of telling
that there is no unique way to present research. Unlike the relatively standardized
format of writing style and structure for presenting results in academic journals,
videography offers the opportunity to think about our consumer research creatively.
If the time of production is quite standardized with 24 or 30 frames per second, the
mixing of all the differing possibilities of creative styles offers so many potentials
that videographic production is like an undiscovered land where researchers
have the incredible chance to combine their scientific abilities with their artistic
abilities or aspirations. This reference to the artistic and aesthetic dimensions
has initiated a wide debate about the dangers of sterile, purely “scientific”
approaches to research (Belk, 1998). It is time we begin to catch up with the
times and think more expansively. Keeping a balance between science and art is
the very challenge of videography as well as of contemporary qualitative research
overall.
To conclude, videography is much more than an output of the research. The
production of a videography impacts on how the researcher is dealing the entire
process of his or her research. And, thanks to all the new ethical questions and
technical or methodological challenges such research projects imply, videography may
represent an attractive, and perhaps compulsory, further step for the marketing
research field. When the position of videography is streamed into the old debate about
“marketing as (or is) science and art,” it is stimulating to observe that this emerging
way to make and present marketing research fits so well with today’s on-going
academic consensus that marketing is both science and art.
Maybe this proves once again that visual research is a powerful approach for
gaining new insights available for the whole marketing field by producing archetypal,
distinctive or visionary perspectives and models (Belk, 1986; Byrnes, 2008; Canterbery,
2001; Drummond, 2001; Fillis and Rentschler, 2005).
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About the authors
Christine Petr is a Full Professor of Marketing at the Politics Institute, IEP – Sciences Po in
Rennes, France, where she conducts research on Leisure Time Consumer Behavior (cultural
practices and tourism), on Decision Processes of consumers. She is interested in Qualitative
Methods and Semiotics. Professor Christine Petr is the corresponding author and can be
contacted at: [email protected]
Professor Russell Belk explains that “My research involves the meanings of possessions,
collecting, gift-giving, sharing, and materialism. This work is often cultural, visual, qualitative,
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and interpretive. By understanding what our possessions mean to us after we acquire them, how
different cultures, past and present, regard consumption, and how we relate to each other
through possessions, it is my belief that we learn something more profound and practical than
simply asking how we evaluate alternative marketplace offerings. In a consumer society, our
ideas about ourselves are often bound up or represented in what we desire, what we own, and
how we use these things.”
Professor Alain Decrop is currently the Dean of the Faculty of economics, social sciences and
business administration at the University of Namur (FUNDP) where he is a Full Professor. PhD in
Business Administration, economist and historian, he teaches classes of marketing, consumer
behavior and qualitative methods. His current research interests focus on decision-making
processes and contemporary consumption phenomena, with applications most often related to
tourism and leisure.
For instructions on how to order reprints of this article, please visit our website:
www.emeraldgrouppublishing.com/licensing/reprints.htm
Or contact us for further details: [email protected]
102
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reproduction prohibited without permission.


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