Anthropological Marketing: a research on the Human – Customer Experience

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As we have already introduced through this video interview, we continue to offer you insights on Anthropological Marketing. Linda Armano, researcher and anthropologist, in this article, defines and introduces her research on Anthropological Marketing, here in download.

Thinking of anthropology in terms of “market” and “marketing” is not usual in Italy. For historical and social reasons, the work of the anthropologist is mostly confined to pure research. In this sense anthropology is a purpose. Making it become a means means addressing a wider audience than just specialists and to popularize it in the etymological sense of the term, despite the fact that pure research remains a catchment area.

What is Anthropological Marketing?

Anthropological Marketing is an interdisciplinary approach that uses strategies and techniques that combine the qualitative research addressed to study of the cultural values of the target in relation to market needs.

To the usual techniques used for the description of the target, the Anthropological Marketing prefers to replace the socio-demographic and psychographic variables with the cultural variables. This means that the Anthropological Marketing evaluates the person and his consumption based on the cultural context in which it is immersed. The values that are associated with a brand are always cultural, or reflect the cultural values that each one has. All of us therefore tend to recognize those brands that, albeit unconsciously, transmit to us values that we appreciate. The Anthropological Marketing therefore searches for cultural drivers and uses them concretely in a market context. Deciphering cultural values means understanding what people expect from a brand or product.

The Anthropological Marketing starts from the concept of culture as it is intended in anthropology. It concerns the set of material products, mental schemes, habits and behavior patterns created, learned and shared by a group of people.

marketing antropologico linda armano

Culture influences what people see, remember and how they process information. It affects the construction of values, attitudes and standardized and conventional reactions, suggesting a certain course of action.

The marketing anthropologist knows that all people internalize an indelible behavioral model. Each of us brings with her/himself cultural models of the way we think, feel emotions and act learned throughout life. People who belong to the same society have a specific vision of the world, that is, a particular way of classifying, and therefore understanding culturally and according to values, the reality in which they are immersed. By cultural classification we mean the set of knowledge that a social group has of the world in which it lives. In this way the world is “domesticated” and made understandable. Each social group has this:

  • Cultural models: sets of values and social norms that establish how an individual must behave or react in front of a situation. They are not static, but rather are constantly changing.
  • Values: the conditions deemed desirable by the persons in view of whom they direct their actions and judge the actions of others.
  • Norms: prescribe the actions to be performed or to be avoided within a context. In reality, social norms can be observed through behaviors that are repeated with a high frequency.

The effectiveness of anthropology applied to marketing

The first step of the marketing anthropologist is to investigate the context, that is the physical or virtual place inhabited by socio-cultural relationships. To analyze the context, the anthropologist must immerse her/himself in the midst of other human beings, observe, understand and share behavior, language, habits, values, beliefs and record their characteristics in a scientific manner.

The Anthropological Marketing therefore interprets consumers using these criteria:

  • Cultural Structure: it is the backbone of culture, that is the basis of common thought. One of the major differences between the Western way of thinking with respect to others concerns the “principle of non-contradiction”. This means that for us it is impossible for an element to be both itself and its opposite.
  • Cultural Insight: these are the cultural categories that people use to classify the world. They can be visualized as a lot of containers in which there are cultural values and norms, knowledge, collective memory, etc.
  • Key Cultural Concept vs Cultural Rules: these, pertaining to the thought categories, represent the states or conditions that a social group considers as goals to be reached (Key Cultural Concept or cultural values) through specific actions (Cultural Rules or Cultural Norms). Socio-cultural values and norms, like other components of human culture, are learned by individuals.
  • Unconscius Habits and Communication: cultural behavior can be implicit or explicit. On the basis of these differences we distinguish: cultural expressions (Unconscius Habits) with which we consider the behaviors that manifest, with words or acts, their own thoughts and feelings. Cultural expressions occur spontaneously without people thinking about them. Cultural communications (Communication) concern instead the arbitrary transmission where the subject has the explicit intention to express him/herself. Furthermore, cultural communications can not only belong to a specific target but can also be transmitted by the company. In this case the two subjects meet in the same context by implementing communication processes. The context is therefore the meeting place between company and consumers and consists of practices that are actually acted out and represented by certain behaviors.


The particular methodology of analysis of Anthropological Marketing is also effective for analysis of the value gaps between the company and the reference target. By analyzing and comparing the results relating to the values that the company wants to transfer to the target with consumer values, it is possible to identify coherences or discrepancies between the two subjects.

Discover anthropological marketing, download the complete search.

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18 April 2017 Linda Armano

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TAG: qualitative research antropological marketing The Sixth W approach