Here we go again. Yet another “failure of polls” situation. History truly does repeat itself. Sometimes, incessantly.

Don’t blame the pollsters.

It’s not their fault you keep making the same mistakes.

Last week, my three year old drew on an expensive vintage coffee table in our living room. I didn’t address the idea with her or find a creative solution to prevent it from happening again. So, when she did the same thing the next day, I had no one else to blame but myself.

It’s a similar situation when it comes to our obsession with polls. They were and have been “wrong” for a while now. It’s not just the last two elections in the United States. There’s evidence of polling failure across the world, from Israel and the UK all the way to India, the stories of polling failures are aplenty. Yet, political parties and institutions keep hiring pollsters and using the same old flawed techniques. …

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Photo by Smit Patel on Unsplash

The philosopher and social scientist Max Weber made a stark judgment of American culture almost a hundred years ago. He noted that unlike society and culture in Europe where one’s social status is rather “fixed” — the family you’re born into, the type of education and vocation you choose being the predominant drivers of said status, in the United States, young people concern themselves more with the desire to make money than with the desire to acquire a traditional education or normative forms of status (as defined in European society). …

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Photo Credit: Unsplash — Kayla Velasquez

Election season is upon us and the issue of “fake news” is all the rage once again. But is “fake news” really that “fake”?

Our assumptions about what is or isn’t “fake” is based on our understanding of what makes something true in our society.

Truth, however, is one of the most misunderstood ideas in culture. As much as we’d like to think of truth as a singular rational idea — that which is observable and verifiable — the reality is that our minds don’t quite work in such a rational way. We’re not rational beings, as much as we’d like to appear like we are. So as irrational and emotional beings, we’re often susceptible to perceptions and ideas that we seemingly have little control over. …

It’s time to ditch that target consumer “persona”.

Imagine a world where ‘the brief’ for a brand doesn’t consist of a target audience — i.e. a persona. Rather, it conveys the meanings that the brand must embody, and the forms of symbolic capital (commonly referred to as social capital) it must provide to its consumer.

That’s what this post is about. I’m going to tell you why it’s important to shift your thinking away from tired old models, and how you can begin doing so.

Let’s begin with the brief because even if you work in innovation, there’s a very high chance that you are beholden to this “target consumer” despite your best efforts to get yourself and your team out of this mindset. …

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Photo by Omar Lopez on Unsplash

If you want your clients or the company you work for to truly embrace diversity, then you need to think about re-examining commonly used approaches to research. After all, research is what drives the creation of solutions and value in the marketplace. If research doesn’t take the rich complexity of culture into account, then it will inadvertently find itself gravitating towards insights and outcomes that are geared toward the majority.

You see, corporations have historically bet on cultural homogenization, and still today continue to use such approaches in research which are designed to dismiss and minimize the experiences of those who don’t belong to the majority.

Cultural Anthropology simply put enables the study of culture (meanings, habits, rituals shared among a group of people). Techniques like human-centered design do a great job of getting to shared habits and rituals but struggle to understand underlying shared meanings that affect how human beings interpret issues and topics. It is the discovery of meaning that most concerns us at MotivBase because without it, it’s very easy to solve the wrong problem in the marketplace.

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Culture is everywhere and everything in culture has meaning. Most often, these meanings are anything but logical or rational.

If you think about pretty much any topic that matters to your business, there are meanings that revolve around those topics. …

Why it’s critical to identify the types of new knowledge being created by this crisis within your customer base

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Photo by Jonas Verstuyft on Unsplash

Every business is worried about the long-term impact of this pandemic on their consumer. Yet, they’re mostly reliant on research that is focused on measuring short term behaviors. Why? It all stems from our predisposition to jump to conclusions. As human beings, we’re automatically driven to a mode of thinking that behavioral economist and Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahneman called “System 1 thinking”. When we are presented with new information, we opt for the easiest pathway to arrive at the necessary conclusions.

For example, if you work for a food company that is currently benefiting from the increased sales of canned goods, you’re more inclined to look at current sales data and customer feedback on the fear of buying contaminated fresh foods and conclude that this “trend” will continue well beyond the peripheral walls of this pandemic. Similarly, if you work for an apparel company that is suffering significantly, it’s easy to think that this is in fact the end of the road for your brands. …

Three strategies you can employ immediately to get yourself out of the rut and open the door to new opportunities.

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Photo by Nik Shuliahin on Unsplash

For those of us who are lucky enough to be working for companies that are doing okay during this pandemic, it’s very easy to fall into the trap of short-term thinking. It is also easy to see why we’re being dragged into that mindset. Every day we’re bombarded with new research about our customer’s changing behavior and it’s hard not to get pulled into the conversation. …

A lot has been written about the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the consumer. In particular, the erosion of people’s trust in government is a topic that is repeatedly discussed in print media and syndicated research as something that is stemming out of the pandemic. Which isn’t entirely true. The coronavirus hasn’t suddenly created the feeling of distrust among Americans towards their governments. It has simply added fuel to a fire that was already burning, albeit gently.

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Photo by Boxed Water Is Better on Unsplash

There’s a reason why the United States has witnessed an unprecedented proliferation of health and wellness related businesses over the past few years. From companies that help you examine your own DNA and regain control over your own body to others that help you de-stress and relax, there’s no lack of companies that fall into the universe of holistic health and wellness. While there are many logical and rational arguments that can be made about why this is so, from an anthropological perspective, the reason centers entirely on the American consumer’s ongoing distrust of the government, and in particular, its role in managing the health industry. This issue is and has been central to the American consumer’s psyche for many years now, only rising in popularity over recent years thanks to political rhetoric from the likes of Bernie Sanders and others, as well as news coverage of the price-gouging and collusive behavior of pharmaceuticals and governments. …

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Photo by 🇨🇭 Claudio Schwarz | @purzlbaum on Unsplash

Lately, I’ve been on a lot of calls with senior leaders at large Fortune 100 companies. On each of these calls, I’ve been consistently asked the same question -

How should my organization be thinking about tracking and measuring the long-term impact of COVID-19 on culture, our society, and of course, our business?

In a time of economic distress such as this, a lot of companies have already jumped the gun to study what consumers are saying about the coronavirus through means like social media listening, online panels and such. In most cases, consumers are being asked about their current and future behavior, especially in relation to product categories that are seeing the most amount of variation in sales and revenue. …


Ujwal Arkalgud

Author Microcultures (2020), Cultural Anthropologist, CEO of - AI powered observational ethnography for front-end innovation.

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