Seeking the human meaning in consumer behavior


The mission of my work is to restore a human vision of commerce. I pursue this mission through qualitative research with symbolic analysis, emotional authenticity, and ritual design.

Though I am a cultural researcher, I don’t seek exotic tribes in far corners of the world. Instead, I look to the overlooked territory within our own commercial culture, discovering moments of profound human significance in a complex society that many have discounted as hopelessly mundane and disenchanted.

For over 20 years, I have worked as an independent researcher, using a variety of deep qualitative research methods to bring clients a different kind of deliverable than can be created using their quantitative systems. As Big Data technologies grow in power to provide marketers with an unprecedented breadth of information, it becomes more important than ever for marketers to have equally powerful qualitative materials at their fingertips.

While algorithmic approaches manufacture an astonishing amount of knowledge about consumer behavior, our cultural capacity for understanding the meaning of the knowledge available to us has remained the same. As a result, marketers have been more overwhelmed by analytics than empowered by them.

We need more sophisticated cultural tools of market research to match the computational strength of Big Data, methods for crafting thick data that can ensure that marketing strategy remains connected with the organic experience of the human beings who will always be the foundation of economic growth.

Digital technology is a powerful servant. However, it takes human beings to understand human beings. My research provides clients with the interpretive power they need to make sense of data, to make it, at long last, actionable.

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