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REVEAL AND REFLECT 
Using Anthropology to Extract 
Customer Gems
Akhilesh Pant 
@pant_ak
No Chimps
No Shirtless Digging
Just No.
IT’S ABOUT HUMAN 
BEHAVIOR IN CONTEXT
“All service which 
a [person] can 
perform for 
humanity must 
serve to promote 
truth.” 
-Franz Boas 
The Foundation
Broad Definitions 
Anthropology: 
“The study of humans, past and present.” 
Cultural Anthropology: 
“The study of cultural...
The Hype
More Hype
THERE’S A LITTLE 
MORE TO IT…
The Spectrum 
Assumptions Testing Assumptions Untestable Insight 
What We Think 
We Know 
What We Couldn’t 
Have Known 
Wh...
The Ethnographic Toolkit 
Institutional-knowledge-gathering 
Start with curiosity: what do people think they know 
about t...
The Result 
Brand loyalty 
and 
strengthened 
relationships 
Understanding 
of context 
Empathy 
Informed 
design
PROVE IT.
Fact: If You’re Normal, You Hate Exercising 
Adidas - USA 
Shift from flashy, striking colors to softer and “less agitatin...
None of this Western Nonsense 
Fotile – China 
Stovetop designed specifically for the urban Chinese family. 
Factors consi...
SO… 
WHAT DOES THIS LOOK 
LIKE FOR US?
Assumption 
Posting thought leadership content on 
platforms like LinkedIn can significantly 
influence an executive’s per...
Refine Assumption 
Survey question: 
On a scale of 1 - 5 (5 = most important), how important is it for you 
to see a firm ...
Test Assumption 
Interview Question: 
Can you tell me about how thought leadership content posted 
on LinkedIn might impac...
Test Assumption 
Follow-up: 
…you mentioned “producing knowledge.” What tells you 
that this knowledge will make the firm ...
Recommendation 
Urge firm contributors to write about their research, focusing on 
recently developed knowledge that is sp...
Deeper Analysis 
We never got to the immersion piece. 
What if we could observe their behavior and, more 
importantly, the...
The Result 
We could learn something like this: 
They not only like new knowledge that is relevant to their 
industry… 
Bu...
Where We End Up 
Assumptions Testing Assumptions Untestable Insight
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN 
FOR YOUR BUSINESS?
The Bottom Line 
Marketing and business development 
strategies need to be centered as much 
around qualitative data (emot...
What You Should Do 
Take steps to move as far as possible from 
assumption towards truth. 
Go from stereotypes to deeply-i...
#1NLab14: Reveal and Reflect
#1NLab14: Reveal and Reflect
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#1NLab14: Reveal and Reflect

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Anthropology in marketing proves more useful than you might think in this presentation by Akhilesh Pant, Strategist at One North Interactive.

From the 2014 Experience Lab: Reimagine Marketing. To watch a video of this presentation, visit http://bit.ly/1xSktbD.

Published in: Marketing
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#1NLab14: Reveal and Reflect

  1. 1. REVEAL AND REFLECT Using Anthropology to Extract Customer Gems
  2. 2. Akhilesh Pant @pant_ak
  3. 3. No Chimps
  4. 4. No Shirtless Digging
  5. 5. Just No.
  6. 6. IT’S ABOUT HUMAN BEHAVIOR IN CONTEXT
  7. 7. “All service which a [person] can perform for humanity must serve to promote truth.” -Franz Boas The Foundation
  8. 8. Broad Definitions Anthropology: “The study of humans, past and present.” Cultural Anthropology: “The study of cultural variation among humans.” Ethnography: “The systematic study of people and cultures…from the point of view of the subject of the study.” Ethnographic Design: “A process in which the needs, wants and limitations of end users of a product, service or process are given extensive attention at each stage of a design process.” Theory Application
  9. 9. The Hype
  10. 10. More Hype
  11. 11. THERE’S A LITTLE MORE TO IT…
  12. 12. The Spectrum Assumptions Testing Assumptions Untestable Insight What We Think We Know What We Couldn’t Have Known What We Actually Know
  13. 13. The Ethnographic Toolkit Institutional-knowledge-gathering Start with curiosity: what do people think they know about the target population? These are initial hypotheses. Surveys Refine hypotheses based on responses. Structured / semi-structured interviews Test the hypotheses: prove, support, modify or disprove. Participant observation; immersion Gather behavioral tendencies, deduce desires; fine-tune previous findings, generate insights Assumption Testing Assumptions Untestable Insight
  14. 14. The Result Brand loyalty and strengthened relationships Understanding of context Empathy Informed design
  15. 15. PROVE IT.
  16. 16. Fact: If You’re Normal, You Hate Exercising Adidas - USA Shift from flashy, striking colors to softer and “less agitating” designs. Why? Because the average target consumer’s most significant concern is motivation, not aesthetics.
  17. 17. None of this Western Nonsense Fotile – China Stovetop designed specifically for the urban Chinese family. Factors considered: two primary cooking vessels, high heat, smoke, “tossing” motion.
  18. 18. SO… WHAT DOES THIS LOOK LIKE FOR US?
  19. 19. Assumption Posting thought leadership content on platforms like LinkedIn can significantly influence an executive’s perception of your firm. Sidenote: 88% of executives have a LinkedIn profile, 73% consider it their “platform of choice”
  20. 20. Refine Assumption Survey question: On a scale of 1 - 5 (5 = most important), how important is it for you to see a firm post thought leadership content on social media? General answer: Between 2 and 3. …important, but not game-changing.
  21. 21. Test Assumption Interview Question: Can you tell me about how thought leadership content posted on LinkedIn might impact your perception of a firm? It’s always nice to see it. It tells me that they are producing unique knowledge, not just leeching it from others.
  22. 22. Test Assumption Follow-up: …you mentioned “producing knowledge.” What tells you that this knowledge will make the firm more effective? My company often has novel problems, so the firm I choose needs to be on the cutting-edge of my industry.
  23. 23. Recommendation Urge firm contributors to write about their research, focusing on recently developed knowledge that is specific to industries they work with. But is this everything? Are there other factors at play?
  24. 24. Deeper Analysis We never got to the immersion piece. What if we could observe their behavior and, more importantly, their immediate reactions? What if we could track their reposts, their shares and their commentary? What if we could talk to them (relatively) on-demand, and get their reasoning right after they perform the action?
  25. 25. The Result We could learn something like this: They not only like new knowledge that is relevant to their industry… But they appreciate when authors are able to display expertise without using complex jargon, instead simplifying it for the audience. Maybe this could bring that 2-3 to a 4-5.
  26. 26. Where We End Up Assumptions Testing Assumptions Untestable Insight
  27. 27. WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR YOUR BUSINESS?
  28. 28. The Bottom Line Marketing and business development strategies need to be centered as much around qualitative data (emotionality) as they are around numerical indicators (rationality). Don’t ignore either side of the equation. Both can help you break ground and stay competitive.
  29. 29. What You Should Do Take steps to move as far as possible from assumption towards truth. Go from stereotypes to deeply-informed personas, scenarios and use cases. Ask yourself: are you putting yourself in your users’ shoes?

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