In a world which is becoming ever more complex, not least when it comes to predict consumer behaviour and understand the role of brands as enforcers of identity, the demand for a more profound and enlarged knowledge in related fields has increased markedly.
It is a well-known fact that humans often do not act what they say. Sometimes they do not even express what they mean but talk in metaphors. Anthropology (and its’ method ethnography) can look beyond the metaphors, can make the difference between depth and superficiality.
I am not talking about the buzz word version of ethnography, which is currently prevailing in business as well as in market research where it has become a trend to do ‘ethnography’. The existing varieties are manifold: – check out a supermarket, – go hunting for the cool, the ’in-crowd’, – observe street life and more. Ethnography is often reduced to a combination of descriptive and observational investigations or alternatively a combination of quality and quantity research methods. To separate methodology from theory and methods from the conceptual framework which is their base, will reduce ethnography to a limited number of methodological exercises which do not demand neither education nor technical competence or training.
Anthropology means to participate in parts of the daily life of a selected group of people. It is about to retract to peoples’ basic needs, their intuitive behaviour. To address a limited selection of people representing the target groups and interpret the metaphors these people express with reference to basic human needs rather than to articulated desires (which we know change in pace with fashion and trends). To understand that human needs transgress cultural borders and that the dominant current cultures of communication and dwelling appear to work happily with other form of cultures; national, regional and religious as well as different subcultures.
Anthropology has obviously reached the agenda of business.