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Product Management Library of Knowledge

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Business Anthropology and the Culture of Product Managers

The first section of this paper explores the history and evolution of the three domains in the field of business anthropology. The second part utilizes a business anthropology lens to examine the field of product and brand management.

Business and industry, according to Marietta Baba (2006) noted business anthropologist and professor, are fundamental ways of organizing and categorizing economic activity to meet basic human needs in modern market societies. Baba defines business, commerce and trade as the buying and selling of goods and services in the marketplace. She defines industry as the organized production of goods and services on a large scale.

Place, space, and everything in between: The use of Proxemics in Branding

By Gavin Johnston, Two West Chief Anthropologist

Over the years the world of marketing and branding has come a long way in understanding how color and images combine to shape the brand experience, and the importance of considering these points when dealing with an array of cultural norms and expectations. We know red is an auspicious color in China, but is often interpreted as being too aggressive and agitating in the US. We know that choosing symbolically discordant images and colors can have a strong impact on the viewers psyche.

The Shopper Continuum

To the credit of marketing, advertising, and research people the days of talking about the consumer as the sole focus of shopping activity are essentially gone. We recognize that the shopper and the consumer are not always the same. Indeed, it is often the case that they are not. The focus has shifted to the process that takes place between the first thought a consumer has about purchasing an item, all the way through the selection of that item. While this is a reasonable approach to understanding the people who buy and use a company's products, it still has one principle flaw. Namely, it focuses on individuals rather than systems of people and the behavioral and cultural drivers behind their actions. The distinction is subtle but important because it assumes the shopping experiences goes well beyond the product itself, which is largely functional, and considers the product (and brand) as a means of facilitating social interaction. In other words, it thinks about shopping as a means of establishing cultural norms, emotional bonds, and identity.
read more of.. The Shopper Continuum

Ethnography: Your Guide to Doing it Right

Ethnography: Your Guide to Doing it Right

Introduction

Over the past decade, ethnography has been embraced by the business community. But the term "ethnography" has been used fairly loosely and expectations about the work and final outcomes vary as much as the people calling themselves ethnographers. Many researchers who feel at ease interviewing people in a "natural" setting claim to be doing ethnography but this is often not the case. Trained ethnographers do more than talk with people--they rely on a set of analytical tools that take experience and specialized training. Before deciding to use an ethnographic approach to answer your research question, it is imperative to know what to expect from a provider.

When did customers become irrelevant?

When did customers become irrelevant?
by Paula Gray, AIPMM

In the AIPMM webinar "The Lessons of Launch", Mark Carr of CMG Partners stated that 54% of businesses do not involve customers in the new product development process. Carr said that most businesses listen to someone's "gut" in determining what customers wanted. He stated that only 1 in 10 of those new consumer products succeeds, and only 1 in 4 B-to-B products succeed. That is a tremendous correlation. Statistically, the "gut" has only a 10% success rate in consumer products and a 25% success rate for B to B. Perhaps businesses would be more successful if they listened to the ultimate purchaser of the product, the customer.

4 Tips for Understanding and Interpreting Nonverbal Communication

4 Tips for Understanding and Interpreting Nonverbal Communication
by Paula Gray, AIPMM

Recognizing that an ethnography respondent, focus group participant or interviewee may be offering much more information nonverbally than they are with words, is crucial to gathering a deeper level of information. Here are 4 key insights to understanding what they aren't saying.

What Can Marketers Borrow From the Anthropologist's Toolbox?

What Can Marketers Borrow From the Anthropologist's Toolbox?
by Paula Gray, AIPMM

Anthropology's toolbox can offer much to assist business practices, especially marketing. Anthropology answers the question of what it means to be human. It is the scientific study of humankind, human origins and human variation, wherever and whenever humans have been found. This can include humans in shopping malls, boardrooms and offices. What marketers can do is to use anthropological methodologies to help inform business activities, tasks, and decisions because customers are humans, too.

What's All the Fuss About Anthropology?

What's All the Fuss About Anthropology?
by Paula Gray, AIPMM

The reason that the social science discipline, Anthropology, is gaining emphasis and focus in the business world is that someone very learned and insightful, remembered that people drive all business decisions. They took a step back from being product-focused and turned the focus to people. People buy your products, people design your products, people analyze and write about your products. People do these things - not industries, not corporations, not media, not demographic data. A person or a group of people form opinions and make these all-important decisions. This is precisely where cultural anthropology, the study of human culture, comes in. Cultural anthropology offers us a peak into the context within which all decisions are made, including buying decisions. Culture is the framework that cultural anthropology uses to create this context.

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