Ninthlink Book Reviews: We Are What We Click

click1Marketing and Modernity: an Ethnography of Marketing Practice by Marianne Elisabeth Lien. Oxford and NY: Berg Publishers.

Although published originally in 1997, this book has been updated and is considered one of the first serous studies that uses ethnographic research methods as a viable means to conduct marketing research for brands and products, whether online of offline in the real world. Lien’s subjects of this study are the men and women who work in the marketing department of a Norwegian food company, Viking Foods. Lien studies how these marketers set out to sell their product in Europe.

While the setting is Europe, and Norway, the application of study is universal for any brand’s method of advertising and marketing. Lien studies not only the workplace environment, but the overall lives of these marketers, the culture they live in, the world politics surrounding them, all of which are intertwined and have an affect on each other. What happens in world politics and the global market has a direct effect on the local concerns of marketing, sales, revenue, and profit. We have certainly found this to be true in today’s environment, as we have seen the breakdown of one system—such as banking and credit—has an across-the-board detrimental effect on the auto industry, the music industry, the housing industry, sales on Amazon or eBay, and so on.

Lien watches and studies how the marketers at Viking Foods strategize getting their product into the hands on consumers, using both online and offline techniques. These savvy marketers start with a goal and create a plan around that goal, and the implement it. In many ways, they follow similar steps found in Ninthlink’s TOP (The Online Plan), which we will soon release in book format, titled 300.

The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute calls this book “ by far the most scholarly and informative study yet produced as to how marketing operates. It is a model of how to carry out ethnographic work inside commerce that one hopes will be much emulated by future ethnographers.” The study builds on seminal ideas about the articulation of local difference within a global market economy to discuss how practical marketing decisions are made with regard to a range of non-local food products, turkey dinners, pizza, and prepared foods. Discussions of imagined cuisines, brands as totems, and the ironic dialectic between the authentic and the exotic produced by the globalization of food culture are informative and provocative.

Such anthropological and sociological methods of studying consumerism, brands, and buyer psychology is something Ninthlink is now offering to customers. We have relied on Lein’s sudy, among others, as models for our approach to a holistic approach of studying brand relevancy in the market. If you wish to understand more on how this works, Lein’s book is a must have.

Click: What Millions of People Are Doing Online and Why It Matters by Bill Tancer NY: Hyperion

Another must have for those interested in online consumer behavior is Tancer’s meditation on what we here at Ninthlink dub “One Click Culture.” Consumers and Internet users demand better usability and ease when surfing, exploring, and buying. Making it all happen faster with the ease of the one click is a driving trend for 2009.

This book considers what time of year do teenage girls search for prom dresses online? How does the quick adoption of technology affect business success (and how is that related to corn farmers in Iowa)? How do time and money affect the gender of visitors to online dating sites? And how is the Internet itself affecting the way we experience the world? In Click, Tancer takes us behind the scenes into the massive database of online intelligence to reveal the naked truth about how we use the Web, navigate to sites, and search for information–and what all of that says about who we are.

As online directories replace the yellow pages, search engines replace traditional research, and news sites replace newsprint, we are in an age in which we’ve come to rely tremendously on the Internet—leaving behind a trail of information about ourselves as a culture and the direction in which we are headed. With surprising and practical insight, Tancer demonstrates how the Internet is changing the way we absorb information and how understanding that change can be used to our advantage in business and in life. Click analyzes the new generation of consumerism in a way no other book has before, showing how we use the Internet, and how those trends provide a wealth of market research nearly as vast as the Internet itself. Understanding how we change is integral to our success.

After all, we are what we click.

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