Project took place during contract employment at Team One from August 2018 – December 2018.
Objective: Since 2010, Team One has carried out a longitudinal quantitative study of the lives and values of affluent consumers. The Global Affluent Tribe study has helped define and guide how the agency understands, communicates to, and strategizes for the affluent. Recognizing the limitations of survey research, my research partner and I proposed to illuminate the worlds of the affluent from the inside through ethnography, bringing to life how they aspire to, build, and maintain a sense of influence and impact in their domain.
Scope: 32 semi-formal and informal interviews, 18 social events attended, and 19 key site visits in Singapore and Los Angeles.
- Conceptualize a “unique” research design that would investigate key themes that have emerged from quantitative data over the years as well as provide Team One with a creative edge in terms of knowledge about luxury consumers
- Prepare and present a research proposal to agency leadership
- Scope and design project, recruit participants, prepare logistics for the field
- Engage potential participants while in the field, making connections and building rapport
- Collaborative development of participant discussion guide
- Lead in-depth semi-formal and informal participant interviews
- Participant observation at social events and informal time spent with participants
- Keep elaborate fieldnotes, live fieldnotes on social media
- Creative photography for the entire duration of fieldwork to enhance the final deliverables and create an art book
- Qualitative data analysis of all data including interviews, field notes, social media, texts, emails, and other media written by or about participants
- Collaboration during sensemaking process and application of anthropological theory to reframe the data and concept of influence
- Development of new insight into the values and motivations of global affluent entrepreneurs
- Photography and design of an art book (see more below)
- Co-creation of a final deck and presentation meant to be a unique immersive experience for Team One strategy department and leadership
- A research report in the form of a visually interesting deck and various presentation formats depending on the audience.
- Visual artifacts of the fieldwork, meant to supplement the report and presentations, while aiming to immerse audiences in the world of our participants, and demonstrate to clients the creative capacity of Team One. These artifacts include a 4 minute video and an art book that bridges the divide between the visual and the theoretical. The digital version of the art book can be viewed here.
This project was the first of its kind at Team One, and it succeeded to convince agency leaders and the strategy team of the value of ethnography and cultivating an anthropology practice within advertising.
In advertising, the concept of influence is pervasive, but rarely explored in any systematic or analytical way. Our research not only helped understand how influence works amongst global affluent entrepreneurs and luxury consumers, but shifted the way that the agency and agency leadership understand and talk about influence.
Primarily, the research is used to help Team One’s clients understand what motivates their users and audience more deeply, but it also helped members within the strategy department think about our social media strategy in a new light, identifying different characteristics and values in targeting our audience.
The impact that I am most proud of is the strategy shift that one of Team One’s luxury hotel brands decided to undergo after being briefed on the results of our research. In conjunction with the ideas we developed on influence, we started working through some ideas, developing a theory that we are calling social alchemy. Even though the theory is in early stages, the hotel client was inspired to rethink and innovate the kinds of experiences they create for members and guests.