Toward a Pedagogy for Consumer Anthropology: Method, Theory, Marketing

  • Robert J. Morais Columbia Business School

Abstract

This paper focuses on teaching the application of anthropology in business to marketing students. It begins with the premise that consumer marketers have long used ethnography as a component of their qualitative market research toolkit to inform their knowledge about and empathy for consumers. A question for market research educators who include ethnography in their curricula is if and how to teach the richness of anthropologically based approaches, especially given a decoupling of ethnographic method from anthropological theory in much consumer research practice. This discussion might also resonate with anthropology educators who are interested in the ways anthropology is applied in commercial settings. As a demonstration of a teaching mode rather than a research report, this paper describes how a consumer anthropology market research project is used experientially in the classroom to help marketing students learn and appreciate the application of both anthropological method and theory for brand-building. Included is a summary of an ethnographic project on Duncan Hines cake mix and an in-class student exercise during which three conceptual ‘jumping off’ points from anthropological theory were used to generate marketing initiatives.

Published
2021-12-31
Section
Articles