Ah! The question, “What Do You Do?” always stops me in my tracks. I have to pick one?

I’m a Creative Director.
I’m a Brand Strategist.
I’m a Graphic Designer.
I’m a Web Developer.
I’m a Marketer.
I’m a Product Photographer.
I’m a Copywriter.
I’m also now a Corporate Anthropologist…

Well, to be fair I’ve been a “Corporate Anthropologist” this whole time without knowing that term!

In short, Anthropology is the study of what makes us human, the cultural constructs and sets of beliefs that drive us to behave in the manners we do. On the surface, especially in a socio-cultural light, many marketers may think that they are already integrating Anthropology with Marketing. But the deeper we look, the more we realize that marketing has been too often obsessed with discovering current customer needs, data, and numbers, and responding with current marketing trends that supposedly initiate customer responses.

Anthropology and Marketing

Anthropology is a great, sustainable discipline to boost your customer getting a leg up in the era of too many choices. Did you know that companies such as eBay, Hewlett Packard, and ADP have kickstarted the trend of hiring “In-House Anthropologists”.

Here are 3 ways you can apply Anthropology to your marketing strategy:

Focus on the Customers’ Subconscious, not Conscious.

It’s an all too common misconception to believe that buying decisions take place at the conscious level. 95% of human buying decisions are directed by the subconscious. This is where marketers stimulate a customer’s memory, emotions, goals, feelings, habits, relationships, and even their spiritual side with strategy and killer design + copy.

Buyer’s Journeys are perfect examples of this. Many brands have launched failed programs by rushing to share decision-level content and correspondence at the awareness level. Don’t say something like “We have X in stock, buy now!” That’s not how marketing works! You need to foster a journey with their subconscious.

Second, perform Implicit Association Tests. I recently performed extensive IATs for a midwest startup to discover what the target market looked for in companies of a similar discipline, what logos, colors, imagery, names, slogans, and taglines meant to them. Their initial thoughts/attitudes/beliefs of the startup’s brand, and why they chose what company when given the choice. IATs are cost- and time-efficient when compared to immersing yourself with the customers in-person

Launch a Customer Immersion Program

I’m always surprised by some clients’ reluctance to do this because it’s actually the most informative, bears the most fruit, and it’s fun! Customer Immersion Programs are simply simulated or first-hand experiences of customers interacting with your brand/product and your competition’s brand/product, and the most accurate observations of their behavior and thinking.

Please do not mistake this for a focus group. The goal here is to establish the most important subconscious trait there is—TRUST—by experiencing what the customers experience side-by-side, face-to-face. These programs are perfect for introducing new messaging, packaging, or product, and for developing, optimizing, or updating buyer personas. I recommended to all my clients in a saturated market to sit down with different players of their buying teams to discover what unique problems their content should address.

But of course, if you don’t have thick skin to see where problems are. You’ll opt out of this service. Which always bums me out – as it’s a valuable exercise.

Segment your Personas AND Track Your Personas’ Behavior

Spending years in the Marketing Automation / Lead Gen / Email Marketing world, I’m always amazed by the flatness of reporting, the expectations of short-term results, and the lack of evolution in programs. Why? Because there are patterns of behavioral data developing at your fingertips that can expose new insights to shorten the sales funnel, create and optimize content, and more!

Get Over the “Ick”

People often tell me they don’t need data research before branding or market strategy. We want to believe that we are not at all influenced by our culture, that our decisions are our own, and that our opinions come from our own consciousness and individual experiences.

We may even consider ourselves a “self-made man/woman”. Thus, accepting the fact that we are highly influenced by others is a huge obstacle for those of us who pride ourselves on our individualism and self-reliance. I get it! Anthropology and Psychology appeal to us more in understanding ourselves and those around us, seeing each person as a unique individual who acts and responds to their environment independently.

Implicit Association Testing is a great way to mine the meanings and associations of a culture for market research. In this age of globalization, it is clearly not enough to consider only the emotional associations and cultural nuances of one’s home market.  Cross-cultural and sub-cultural research must be conducted to appeal to those segments of the population your brand or products are not appealing to.  This may even mean modifying your logo to send the right message to those consumers.  

Culture eats individualism for breakfast, giving anthropology the prime position in market research in your brand.

The Unglitch is an expert in culture and has a knack for exposing the overlooked obvious for your brand strategy, marketing execution, and more!