Ethnography vs. Contextual Interviews: Methods Matter

Methods matter. It’s often assumed that an open-ended interview is ethnography and the reasons for the confusion are understandable, but an ethnographically-informed approach, which a contextual interview can certainly be, is not the same thing as a true ethnographic project.  Contextual interviews, which rely on self-report data, and ethnography, which focuses on observed data through […]

Deliberate Coffee

The form of the beverage we enjoy today originated in the 13th century and rapidly spread throughout the Middle East. Coffee growing was exclusive to Africa and the Arabian Peninsula until the 17th century, when European colonial powers began establishing plantations in Asia and the Americas. Coffee quickly became a craze among the Old World […]

Marketing Coffee’s Third Wave

Third wave coffee is arguably the most recent wave in coffee history. While the first wave made coffee ubiquitous across all nations, and second wave changed the way Americans consumed coffee, third wave has had just as dramatic of an impact. Third wave coffee can be boiled down to one central feature: the coffee itself. […]

Insights in an Age of Emotion

When historians look back on the early years of the 21st century they will note a paradigm shift from the closing years of the Information Age to the dawning of a new age, The Age of Emotion. Now, there are those that would argue that in a period defined by prolonged economic ennui ROI is […]

Food, Sex, Guilt: How Marketing What We Eat Needs to Change

Eating has always been closely linked with courtship. All species, including our own, seem to be involved in this mating gamble with food as the bait. Equally, food and sex are generally closely linked. Biologically, they are physically linked in the limbic system of the brain, which controls emotional activity. Many of the words we […]

You Are What You Brand

It sometimes seems lost on people, but consumers have begun to face an important problem: the increased uncertainty about various product attributes. This arises from various asymmetric information consumers have access to, regarding a specific product. Consumers tend to assess certain product attributes in a holistic manner rather than a case by case basis – […]

Shades of Blue: Marrying Art and Science

When chemists at Oregon State University discovered a brilliant new blue pigment serendipitously, they were not thinking about creating art. But in a true art meets science moment, an applied visual arts major bean using the blue pigments in her artwork as part of an internship in Subramanian’s laboratory. This was also her first foray into the world […]

PREFUNKING: Ethnography, booze, and neon drink

First Published in Peeps Forum: In its original formulation, Sparks was one of the first alcoholic beverages to contain caffeine. Its other original active ingredients included taurine, ginseng, and guarana, the backbone ingredients of traditional energy drinks. It also contained 6% alcohol. Packaged in a can that looked like a AAA battery, its labeling boldly […]

Divorce

Package it, slap a label on it and sell it for $4.99 a pound. It’s as simple as that when you’re selling groceries, right? Hardly. Food, meat in particular, is tied to cultural sensibilities about production, cleanliness, family values and a host of other topics. Meat, like Norman Rockwell images of the American farm, is […]

Translating culture and opening markets

Success translates well into narrative. Who hasn’t heard those wonderful stories of marketing campaigns gone astray when introduced into a global setting? Remember when Puffs tissue started marketing their tissues in Germany and it didn’t do so well because “Puff” means “brothel” in German?  Or when Bacardi launched a fruit drink named Pavian in France […]