Bob Morais Article

Robert Morais, in his article “Consumer Anthropology and AI: Teaching Business School Students,” published in “Teaching Anthropology,” discusses his experience integrating generative artificial intelligence (AI) into his Columbia Business School course, “Market Intelligence: The Art and the Science.” This course explores the integration of behavioral, social, and mathematical sciences in brand-building, strategic planning, and marketing decision-making.

Morais details an experiment where he used ChatGPT to generate marketing ideas for Duncan Hines cake mix, based on specific research findings and theoretical frameworks. ChatGPT proposed 12 marketing ideas, organized under three conceptual jumping-off points: Duncan Hines as a Social Connector, Cultural Transmitter, and Creator of a Special Place. These ideas ranged from community events and cultural education programs to kitchen transformation contests and online baking showcases.

After his students created marketing ideas based on ethnographic data and conceptual frameworks, Morais presented ChatGPT’s results, demonstrating the combined value of human and AI intelligence in applying ethnographic and theoretical insights to marketing.

Morais suggests that AI can be broadly utilized in various aspects of marketing, including developing interview guides, content analysis, market segmentation, and generating marketing insights and strategies. He emphasizes that while AI’s responses usually make sense, it’s important to discern and disregard any inaccurate or irrelevant suggestions.

He also describes using Google Bard to summarize an anthropological study on Cadillac in a class focused on factor analysis in the automobile market. This example further illustrates AI’s potential in providing marketing insights based on cultural change.

Morais concludes that generative AI has significantly impacted the teaching of market intelligence and asserts that excluding AI from an anthropological methods course would be a substantial oversight and a disservice to students. The article highlights the evolving role of AI in the field of consumer anthropology and its applications in business education.

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