Flípate Magazine: Business Anthropology versus Marketing Ed3- Oct 2020

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Business Anthropology versus Marketing

* Business Anthropology *


�usiness �nthropology

Issue 3 October 2020

Etnography · Advertising · Product · Shadowing


Issue No. 3

— Staff — Founders: Giovanna Manrique y Natalia Usme. Editor in Chief: Natalia Usme. Art Director: Camila Youngerman. Columnists: Jesús Contreras, Daniela Moreno. Translator: Mauricio Téllez Godoy. Proofreader: Carolina Serrano.

* Follow us on Social Media! Facebook: Flipa Consultora Twitter: @FlipaConsultora Instagram: @FlipaConsultora Youtube: Flipa Antropología de Negocios Web: Flipa Consultora Flípate © Magazine, October 2020. Issue No. 3. All rights reserved. Flípate Magazine is not responsible for the publication or distribution of international editions, unless the edition has been authorized by Flipa's administrative staff. Do you want to receive the magazine, or send us some comments? Please send an email to contacto@flipaconsultora.com

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Business Anthropology versus Marketing

EDITO�AL — Issue No. 03 —

* It is common for businesses to confuses marketing with Business Anthropology. However, these two worlds are completely different. Why? To answer this question, I invite you to read the articles within this issue. Each author will guide us through the objectives, scopes, and glances within these two disciplines. By highlighting the difference between concepts and their applications, each article will lead you into understanding when businesses need a marketing strategy or Business Anthropology. Shall we start? *



Issue No. 3


Let’s make it sexier! By Natalia Usme


Marketing to reach the Emerald City By Jesús Contreras.


The holistic power of Business Anthropology By Daniela Moreno.

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Business Anthropology versus Marketing

Our Writers Natalia Usme. Business Anthropology Manager and Co-owner at Flipa Consultora. She is the pioneer of Business Anthropology in Colombia. Natalia has more than 8 years of experience. She focuses on designing present and future strategies for companies. She has a Master of Arts in Applied Cultural Analysis from Lund University in Sweden. At Flipa, she leads international and national projects. Natalia is part of the committee of the Global Business Anthropology Summit (GBAS) as a contributor, she is also an international speaker.

Daniela Moreno. Anthropologist from Universidad del Rosario in Colombia. Her work focuses on social innovation projects in the public and private sector. She aims at understanding citizens, unveiling existing gaps and problematizing inequalities to co-create and develop initiatives with stakeholders.

JesĂşs Contreras. Founder of the GOST Project, an initiative that uses photography as an instrument for change. He holds a B.A in Communication, Social and Cultural Anthropology. JesĂşs has more than 10 years of experience on media. He specializes in print journalism and photography. In 2008 he won the National Journalism Award in Venezuela with mention in Photography. He focuses on visual arts, culture and inclusive education.



Photo by cottonbro on Pexels

Issue No. 3


Let's make it sexier Photo by Emily on Pexels

By Natalia Usme

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It is Monday morning and I open my corporate email. Someone from the market intelligence area at one of Colombia’s leading banks has emailed us. They want to meet with us in order to discuss a project. (Continues on page 7.)

Business Anthropology versus Marketing

So, we prepared our presentation and soon enough the pitch-day arrived. During the meeting one of the team members from the bank asked: "Ok so, how long does it take for you to do a market research?” That is when everything started spinning in my head. I felt several voices in my mind, all saying: “But, our website does not state that we conduct market research. Where did they get this information from? “Where did they get this information from?” I tried to keep a neutral expression –I am not sure I succeeded. Then, I started to ask them further details on what they were looking for. They told me the bank had products that they wanted to "make sexier" for their audiences. They wanted to figure out how to sell those products, and they needed anthropologists in order to gather insights. At Flipa, my company, we have dealt with similar situations before: potential customers reach out to us because they have already developed a product, and they just want to sell it to certain audiences. Nevertheless, it never ceases to surprise me. Every time this happens in a meeting, my body starts dancing in the chair, almost too uncomfortable to say something. The reason why I have this reaction is because Business Anthropology does not aim at creating marketing campaigns for companies. You do not use a business anthropologist to sell products and services that already exist, nor to make them “look sexy”. That is why we need to detach Business Anthropology from what market research is. Why? Well, because the starting point of Business Anthropology is design research. But, what is the difference between market research and design research? On one hand, market research focuses on identifying potential customers for a product, service, or experience in order to define a potential market. Moreover, this type of research tries to identify the appropriate sales model, as well as the brand efforts that the company has to make (e.g. designing an advertising campaign). On the other hand, a design research focus-

es on understanding how customers use (or will use) a product, service, or experience, in order to identify the needs that these individuals might develop over the course of that interaction. Hence, the starting point for any design research has a beautiful name: context. In order to gather insights on how a person might use or uses your product and service, you need to understand how they live, what they reality is all about: how and who they live with, where and how they work, the technologies they use, and how they use them, the communities they belong to, the economic and social factors, and much more. Subsequently, design research studies how all these variables may directly or indirectly impact how, why and when the product or service is used and, mainly, the narratives created around it. Additionally, design research focuses on achieving a thorough understanding of what happens when a person “talks to” that specific product. What do I mean by this? In the first place, I mean that this type of research seeks to identify the touchpoints between a person and a product, in order to analyze what actually happens during the course of that interaction. For example, let’s think of a store where a product is offered. This store constitutes both a touchpoint, and a specific context. By using Business Anthropology, we could analyze what happens there, and what people feel when they see and touch the product. We could apply methods such as participant observation, semi-structured interviews, among others, to examine what they think, do and feel when speaking to store clerks, and when walking around the store. All of this aiming to design or improve the service experience, among other items. Photo by P C on Pexels

Likewise, when I say that the customer “talks to” the product or service, I am also referring to the type of relationship they both create. For example, let’s say that, after visiting a store and receiving a certain experience, a client decides to buy the product, and let’s also imagine |7

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* The starting point for any design research has a beautiful name: context. In order to gather insights on how a person might use or uses your product and service, you need to understand how they live, what they reality is all about * that this product has a digital component. At this point, the design research could focus on another of its dimensions: user experience.

to come with my friends when school is over, and we gossip" or, "What I like the most is being called by my name and having my name on the cup."

What happens when the client interacts with the app’s touchpoints? Is it easy to navigate? Does the person understand the step-by-step? What are the emotional, social, and functional objectives that the client has within the application? Does the client achieve them? A business anthropologist could get in-depth answers to these questions, and he could use them to enhance the user’s experience.

Business Anthropology would explore the answers to these questions by using social sciences. For example, we could refer to the concept of the Third Place, as proposed by sociologist Ray Oldenburg in his book The Great Good Place (1989). Oldenburg suggests to think about home as the first place, the workplace as the second place, and public areas as the third place: a realm where people create a sense of community. That said, how could we apply this theory to analyze these responses?

However, this story is still incomplete because, although Business Anthropology starts by conducting a design research, it does not stop there. It moves forward to employ analytical and strategic capacities. It uses insights from interviews, shadowing, and other methodologies to design business strategies that benefit both the company's business model, and its final customers. Care to see an example? Let’s take Starbucks as a business case. While their product in its simplest form is coffee, the experience they offer has different touchpoints, both analog and digital. What would Business Anthropology analyze and design in this instance? Let's explore both dimensions of the experience.

Analog experience In order to begin our exploration, we may ask ourselves: why do people go to Starbucks? What is the most important aspect within the analog experience? We could obtain responses such as, "What I like the most about this place is that I get 8 | Flípate

Well, by knowing that the results highlight that people’s favorite aspect from the Starbucks experience is to feel like they belong to something larger than themselves. “To be with friends” or, “To see the name written on the cup” means to be socially recognized within a community (to be validated, to feel loved). On the other hand, sitting down to "gossip" implies constructing different realities within a select group of people. The results from “creating” a gossip is that people are able to navigate notions like, "I know something that others don't know, and that makes me feel special." This insight could be applied to design the customer’s sensorial experience in several ways. For example, it could be used to create even more comfortable chairs to emulate an “at home” feeling where friends gather to gossip. Stores could even use cozier lightning, or warm colors in order to create a more intimate and secretive atmosphere. In fact, Starbucks knows it, and Starbucks has already done it.

Business Anthropology versus Marketing


Although Business Anthropology starts by conducting a design research, it does not stop there. It moves forward to employ analytical and strategic capacities. *

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Digital experience Meanwhile, from the digital experience point of view, Business Anthropology examines the customer’s mental models or thought structures. To achieve this, it delves into the holistic approach I mentioned earlier on. It is important to understand that the digital is also social, and that everything that a customer does in the cyberspace –be it on a website, an application, or others– is rooted in an analog environment. Thus, in our example, the research would combine an analysis of the person (the customer), their experience at the analog store, and the definitions given to coffee, among other factors, via theoretical frames. Why? Because it would give us a better understanding of the customer’s beliefs in terms of what Starbucks’ digital channels should be like. This could lead to a broader and thorough research of the human (not the user), which would serve as the basis for designing a great website. And not just "any” website or application, but one that followed the third-place model –as Oldenburg would describe it– to generate community ideas in the cyberspace. Considering all of the above, we can now see that there is a difference between making something “look sexy” –as marketing does–, and designing what sexy is alongside with the customer, person or user who will interact with the product, service or experience. What type of “sexy” does your project or organization want? The one that “looks” sexy? or the one that “is” sexy? �

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Businesses create robust and sustainable value propositions when they focus on a contextual understanding. Thus, one thing is to sell –that is to develop marketing strategies–, and another thing is to design what you know is going to be relevant for audiences, which is the key goal of Business Anthropology.

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Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash


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Marketing to reach

the Emerald * C�ty * By Jesús Contreras

Photo by Alexander Mils on Pexels

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Business Anthropology versus Marketing

«Oh, I've finally decided my future lies beyond the yellow brick road… Ah, ah, ah.» — Elton John, 1973, track 4.

When I hear the word “marketing”, I immediately think of a course on Marketing Principles that I took at university. At the time, I found it dreary to listen to a professor explaining how to sell a product for hours. This is why I unconsciously frown when I remember that pointless episode of my life as a student. Back then, all I ever wanted to do was to write press articles. According to data from the Statista Research Department, in 2006 –the year I graduated– Amazon surpassed 10 billion dollars in net revenue (2020). This fact reflects how, back then, the e-commerce business model was beginning to reveal its true potential. The Internet’s omnipresence allowed companies to engage with customers via their online content strategies. That was when I realized that it had been a bad idea not to pay attention to that marketing class. By that time, Amazon had already become one of the leading e-retailers in the United States, mainly due to its customer-centered philosophy. This milestone coincided with the creation of Hubspot, a platform that introduced inbound marketing as the new way to develop online businesses. Lozada (2015) talks about this in a research paper that discusses the challenges that Ecuadorian companies faced in the digital era: Since 2006, inbound marketing has been the most efficient marketing tot conduct online business. This new methodology focuses on creating quality content that attracts people towards the company and the product, instead

of using old methods such as advertisement or emailing. (Lozada,2015, p.7) This new strategy aimed to create eye-catching content to trigger online behaviors such as product browsing and buying. This idea captivated me. Ten years after graduating, I decided to give marketing a second chance, so I registered for an online digital marketing course. Just like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, I started searching for the yellow brick road to arrive in the Emerald City of mass-consumption. At that time, communication companies asked for professionals with marketing expertise, so I went in for a second round. This time I truly enjoyed the experience, mainly because of my anthropological background and toolkit. After finishing the course, I realized that several marketing concepts came from the social sciences. I also noticed that several companies aimed at creating solutions for social issues, and their approach was customer-centered. That was when it hit me: there was an inevitable intersection between applied anthropology and businesess. The new means of production and the digitalization of commercial processes have placed marketing as the ultimate tool to obtain or boost business profits. However, do we know the difference between Business Anthropology and marketing? Let’s begin by defining both. On one hand, Kotler and Armstrong (2008) define marketing as | 15

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* Business Anthropology a designing. And design w strategies, organizationa services, experiences among *

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Business Anthropology versus Marketing

* aims at researching and what? User experience al innovation, products, s, strategic planning, others. *

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[…] a social and managerial process by which individuals and groups obtain what they need and want through creating and exchanging products and values with others. In a narrower business context, marketing involves building profitable, value-laden exchange relationships with customers. (Armstrong, 2008, p.5) Based on that definition, we could say that marketing is a value-building process that aims at shaping long-lasting relationships with customers, in order to stimulate a product, goods, and services exchange between the company, and the client. Thus, marketing seeks to increase sales, customer loyalty, brand awareness, and seducing internal and external audiences. On the other hand, Bronislaw Malinowski, founder of social anthropology, coined the term “practical anthropology” in 1929. His idea created a new version of anthropology, one that suited industrial and organizational needs. As Bartoli (2002) states, this adaptation employs methods and theories from traditional anthropology to improve the social and economic conditions of people. Business Anthropology is one of the branches in applied anthropology, and it has two main goals: to conduct research and to design. To design what? User experience strategies, innovation, products, services, and experiences, among others. To accomplish this, it focuses on having an initial understanding of the human that will become a “customer” or “user”. So, now we have an idea on the key differences between Business Anthropology and marketing. The first one explores the context to design products and services together with people, while the second one aims at selling something to that audience. When I understood this, I was able to see the light. Now I know that anthropology acts like an amplifier, helping marketing, and other business areas, to embrace a wider outlook. Anthropology has the potential to offer invaluable contributions to anyone interested in understanding their company's, or client’s behavior. That is why, upon arriving in the Emerald City, I realized that it was not as shiny as it seemed. That was when I understood that my future was beyond the yellow brick road. So, 18 | Flípate

just like Dorothy, I clicked my heels with my ruby slippers to go back home, to my anthropological essence, and embraced ethnography as a lifestyle. *


Bartoli, L. (Ed). (2002). Antropología Aplicada. Historia y perspectiva desde América Latina. Ediciones Abya-Yala. John, E (1973). Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (CD). Hérouville, FR: MCA Records. Kotler, P., Armstrong, G. (2008). Principles of Marketing. (12th ed.) Prentice Hall.

Lozada, C. (Ed). (2015). Marketing del Siglo XXI. Como las empresas ecuatorianas enfrentan nuevos retos en el área del conocimiento. Universidad Católica de Santiago de Guayaquil. Statista Research Department. (2020, agosto) Facturación mundial anual de Amazon por ventas 2004-2019. Available in link

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Issue No. 3

The holisti Business �n

By Danie

I have always wondered how social sciences contribute to the social construction of a country. This question has been the driving force behind the way I think and develop each one of the projects I work in, both in the public and private sectors. This impulse has led me to believe that, as social scientists, we can offer valuable insights from the methods we use. This notion made even more sense to me when I came across designer Diana Sierra’s case. In 2012, Sierra traveled to Mbarara, a village located in the south-east of Uganda. There, she noticed that it was not easy for menstruating girls and young women in rural areas to acquire sanitary pads. This happens in a country where a significant portion of the population’s “personal income lies below the poverty line, defined as $1.25 a day” (UNDP, 2018, p.3). These socioeconomic elements and other factors have forced Ugandan girls to drop out of school at a very early age. In an interview, Sierra states:

of Ugandan girls. This product allowed them to go to school while on their periods without interrupting their academic lives. If we were to take a look at the wider impact this product had, we could argue that it helped mitigate current and emerging gender inequalities in rural areas of Uganda. By reading the context, Sierra was able to design a product and the business model for her company –Be Girl. In fact, she soon realized that, if she wanted to meet these young women’s expectations, she had to talk to them. That was her approach to gather further details on items such as habits, perceptions, and color choices.

When a [Ugandan] girl gets her period, she does not count on any decent or clean protection to continue with her life. She practically misses a quarter of a school year, simply because she is terrified of having a bloodstain on her uniform. (RCN, 2016)

This story tuned in with my life purpose because it made me understand the contribution that disciplines such as anthropology, history, sociology, and philosophy can make. They can change social realities by designing strategies and social innovation for private organizations. Why do I say this? Well, because, through a context-reading exercise, Sierra was able to redefine Ugandan young women’s position in the world. For them, sanitary pads were more than just mere products; these elements allowed women to play an active role and to develop their identities within a specific social setting.

This situation triggered something in Sierra. She decided to design a reusable, low-cost product that fitted the socioeconomic conditions

This story speaks volumes about the holistic approach of Business Anthropology and its ability to provide context. Doing fieldwork

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Photo by Briana Wallace on Unsplash Business Anthropology versus Marketing

tic power of nthropology

ela Moreno

and understanding how people are socialized reveals blind spots that businesses might have overlooked because of their limiting gaze that categorizes humans as users or clients for their marketing and product development strategies.

Is Marketing a straitjacket? I believe that marketing has made an important bet on understanding the needs and behaviors that “users” have regarding products, brands, and businesses. However, as I mentioned earlier, if companies individualize their user experience solely based on archetypes, proto-personas, and user-personas, they will not produce longlasting results because these tools are restrictive if not used alongside social sciences. That is why Business Anthropology’s perspective consists of building a holistic approach. One that takes into consideration the social and cultural contexts to understand what people need in regards to a product or service. In this sense, it is crucial to free ourselves from the straitjacket, or the limits that a “user” definition imposes. We need to be analytical when approaching other realities. This will allow us to understand how culture, society, politics, and the economy shape people’s experiences. Consequently, it will provide us, as researchers, with an understanding of people’s relationships with products, brands, and businesses.

* Through a context-reading exercise, Sierra was able to redefine Ugandan young women’s position in the world. *

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Putting intersectionality into practice –understanding how the crossing of categories such as gender, sexual orientation, race, social class, and ethnic background generate specific realities–, will provide us with more humanized, thorough, and contextualized data about their individual experiences. Going back to Diana Sierra and Be Girl’s case, she didn’t arrive in Uganda to create a business or a product but –as it would occur in social sciences’ praxis–, she listened to the girls’ realities. If we were to take a look at another company that sells feminine hygiene products, we would notice that what they do is marketing. That is, they create differentiated experiences for specific user segments, but, in the end, they sell a standardized product. This framework is limiting, as it does not grasp on the social and cultural contexts around the world that make it difficult for women to access these products. There is no “universal” truth, as we have seen, for designing a product. That is why is extremely important to conduct fieldwork and to analyze the social, cultural, political, and economic aspects that determine people’s lives. That is what marks the difference between Business Anthropology and marketing. Using Business Anthropology allows businesses to identify opportunity areas to link organizations with their social settings. The transformational power of Business Anthropology is what guides my actions and allows me to find the perfect match between value, organizational purpose, and the social construction of any reality. �


RCN (2016, Mayo). Diana Sierra le cambió la vida a niñas africanas con ropa interior para la menstruación. Available on Link United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). (2018). Report of the joint field visit to Uganda by members of the Executive Boards of UNDP/UNFPA/ UNOPS, UNICEF, UN-Women, and WFP, 30 April to 4 May 2018. Available on Available on Link

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— Issue No. 3 —

— Business Anthropology —