The Role of a Business Anthropologist in Today’s Changing World
Hello everyone, I’m John Golden, your host, and today I had the pleasure of interviewing Oliver Swede, a business anthropologist based in London, UK. Oliver’s work is fascinating, and it involves studying people and culture through international research. He uses this knowledge to help companies and governments understand and influence consumer and citizen behavior. With experience in over 35 countries, Oliver has worked on various topics such as public health, sustainability, product innovation, and brand development.
What Does a Business Anthropologist Do?
During our conversation, I asked Oliver to shed some light on what a business anthropologist does, considering it’s a relatively uncommon profession. Oliver explained that anthropology and sociology degrees often lead to a lack of clarity about career paths. However, for those who want to apply their academic skills to the business world, anthropology offers a unique perspective on culture and how it influences brands and services.
Oliver gave examples of iconic brands like Coke and Nike, which have successfully embedded themselves in culture. By understanding and influencing culture, businesses can shape how their brand is perceived.
The Power of Subcultures
Oliver’s work involves immersing himself in different cultures and subcultures to understand why people do what they do. He mentioned the concept of echo chambers, where people with similar interests and beliefs surround themselves with like-minded individuals. By studying these subcultures, Oliver helps businesses define their target audience and gain insights into their motivations and behaviors.
I highlighted the importance of going beyond basic demographic data and understanding the meaning behind people’s actions. Oliver gave an example of how two seemingly identical target buyers, such as King Charles, can have different motivations and behaviors based on their cultural context.
The Impact of Remote Work on Brands
We also discussed how the shift to remote work and the decline of commuting has impacted brands and companies. Oliver mentioned the example of the fast food chain Pret a Manger, which used to have multiple locations in central London but has now moved to the outskirts where people live. However, this move hasn’t been successful because people no longer want a quick lunch at home.
The Search for Authenticity and Simplicity
Oliver explained that brands and companies need to adjust to this new reality by redefining themselves and finding their authenticity. He mentioned two cultural trends: the search for simplicity and meaning, and the search for authenticity. People are looking for a simpler life and are proud of finding cheaper alternatives to high-end brands. This poses a challenge for brands, as people have realized that they can get similar products at a lower cost.
Oliver emphasized the importance of emotional connections and finding what sets a brand apart. He also mentioned the trend of peak globalization, where people are starting to close their borders and prefer locally made products.
Oliver works for Ipsos, a global research agency, and specializes in ethnography. He concluded by inviting viewers to learn more about Ipsos and his expertise on their website and LinkedIn.
In conclusion, our conversation with Oliver Swede was enlightening and provided a unique perspective on the role of a business anthropologist in today’s changing world. Understanding and influencing culture is crucial for brands and services to thrive in the current market landscape.
John is the Amazon bestselling author of Winning the Battle for Sales: Lessons on Closing Every Deal from the World’s Greatest Military Victories and Social Upheaval: How to Win at Social Selling. A globally acknowledged Sales & Marketing thought leader, speaker, and strategist. He is CSMO at Pipeliner CRM. In his spare time, John is an avid Martial Artist.