Great books for people who study people
American Families — a deep dive
A central theme in this book is “the economy of dignity” whereby people earn peer respect by showing they know about things that matter within a subculture. This is especially true for younger people who are in the process of defining their identity. For example, school aged kids earn dignity by showing they’re up on the latest video games, pop songs and slang.
Pugh’s extensive ethnographic fieldwork with a diverse array of families is deeply rich source material for market researchers.
She makes is an important contribution to the sociology of children, parenting and the contemporary American family.
Fast Forward Family is based on perhaps the most comprehensive ethnographic study of American Families ever conducted. The Center on the Everyday Lives of Families (CELF) Study followed 32 families in Los Angeles from 2002 to 2005.
This book offers a window into middle-class American family life like none other. Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century is its visual companion.
To my market research colleagues: don’t dismiss this one because it was fielded before the explosion of modern devices. This prequel to that shift in the consumer experience is utterly relevant today.
The science of habit
If you haven’t read The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg yet, do. It should be required reading for anyone trying to understand people.
Here’s an illustration of how habit works from a research study SayWhat conducted this year. A well-known maker of product devices for the home discovered its customers were not using some of the features of their newly purchased products. The company had expected these new features would excite consumers. SayWhat was brought in to conduct open-ended conversations online with some of their customers to find out why they were not using some of the new features. The short answer: habit. According to Duhigg, humans are hard wired NOT to change unless the reward is big. Some of the new features required them to change an entrenched habit. Use a remote vs. a manual switch. Most of the customers I spoke with opted to just keep using the product the “old way” because they were used to it. The “old way” wasn’t bad and the “reward” for changing was not compelling enough.
Networking made easy
Friend and colleague Karen Wickre has written this gem that will change your perspective on networking forever.
If you are like me, and you’d rather have a root canal than face the prospect of “working a room” at a conference, this book is for you.
Wickre’s techniques for cultivating “loose-touch habits” will help you sustain relationships and form new connections.
News flash! Small talk matters, and you can learn how to do it well.
No matter where you fall on the introvert spectrum, this book will teach you new ways to think about networking that will serve you well for the rest of your life.
Happy Holidays! We look forward to working with you to better understand the people who are your customers, users, audience members, and/or those you serve.