Defining a Social Network

The old adage “no man is an island” and “nobody lives in a vacuum” are true. We live in a complex network of relationships and communities that shape our worldview, behavior and influence our daily behavior.  A social network is the socio-cultural group made up of individuals or institutions called “nodes.” These are connected by one or more specific types of interdependency, […]

Beyond Mobility: What Businesses Can Learn From Ugandan Banking

Drive through any city, town or village in Uganda and you’ll see a multitude of buildings painted bright yellow. That yellow is the color identity of MTN, a self-described “mobile communications and network access company” that sells phones, SIM cards and phone accessories. At first glance, they’re a fairly standard regional phone and Internet provider. […]

Ethnography Gone Bad

I wrote the other day about the misuse of the term “ethnography” and seemed to raise the ire of a few folks.  Ethnography, I was informed, is indeed the collective property of all researchers and it’s definition is subject to the chosen uses of the day.  Being the anthropologist and would be semiotician that I […]

Four Elements of a Successful Brand Extension

While executives rightly proceed with caution when considering brand extensions, the rewards of success are substantial. Although Apple’s is, rightfully, the darling of the hour (the iPod, iPad and iPhone are shining examples), Apple is certainly not unique. Other powerful brands that have created enormous equity by extending into unlikely categories include Amazon and Virgin. […]

Coffee Culture in Asia and What It Means to Product Development

Coffee shops are 
more than places to get a beverage or pick-me-up. Coffee shops play an 
important role in socializing. They convey a different meaning in the 
collective psyche than do taverns, restaurants and other places of shared 
food and drink. From the independent shop to the corporate behemoth, coffee 
shops provide a space of […]

Linguistic Shortcomings of Social Media Monitoring – notes.

It is difficult to get an accurate reading on how commonly a word is used in a given society. In fact, the task of measuring word frequency fully objectively is inherently impossible. The results will always be affected by the size of the corpus and the choice of the texts entered in it. On a […]

Resource Flow Analysis: Cool Tools

We often find ourselves talking about symbols and emotions in fieldwork rather than digging into some of the more basic structures of life. How do basic elements of survival interact with and shape world view? How does that influence or shape buying patterns? In an age of what appears to be long-term economic distress, understanding […]

Creating Place in the Retail Setting

The retail space is an extension of the brand, not simply a place to display merchandise. As brands becomes more focused on shopper marketing, the retail space becomes increasingly relevant in how we think about marketing and design. This means that in addition to the consideration put into the initial design of the space, retailers […]

10 “DOs” for the In-Context Interview

For better or for worse, the interview is probably the largest part of the qualitative researcher’s job.  Learning to do it well is harder than it appears, particularly when it is in context rather than a formal, or even semi-formal, setting.  The in-context  interview is a lengthy conversation (often 2+ hours) that explores the values, […]