The Indicator from Planet Money - Kit Kat, Puppies, And Masks: Anthro-Vision

What do Kit Kat, dog food, and mask wearing have in common? You'll find the answer in the new book Anthro-Vision. We speak with its author, journalist and anthropologist, Gillian Tett.

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So we have a nice day. See, I visited a park in Manhattan. To meet Gillian tett, the study of people and cultural anthropology. Is this quite useful way of looking at the economy is they like to do what they do and a kindness often. Just don't question that what Anthropologist want to do is the opposite like really understand where these preferences and cultural proclivities come from using her. Anthropological Palace, one of the first things Julian itis about me in that pack was my beard.

What is the most of it's actually much more tame now. Are you had like a fool on like Nostradamus Karl Marx Rasputin level beer. Going on for a while, I don't know. But Gillian had an explanation way to explain how it is with a concept could liminality when people started sprouting. Theater in locktown, it was one way of people taking things to themselves and others. Actually this wasn't a normal moment in history. It was a time of transition with limbo moment. So in Economist might look at razor blades, sales, plummeting and save his people prefer not to shave that much and a story, but an anthropologist will dig deeper and provision is full of examples. Like this, that make you see work and business differently. She makes the case that when we think about it, questions, like when should white collar workers go back into the office, we should invite anthropologist

To the table. A lot of big corporations are doing this already.

This is the indicator from Planet Money. I'm Darien Woods in a few stories that illustrate. Just how anthropology could help us, understand the economy, going to go to a Japanese High School, a dog food company and visit a very strange and peculiar group of people known as Americans.

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$1 of anthropology is to make the strange familiar. And an example of this starts with a Kit. Kat bar is a Kit Kat

I brought along a couple of feet with Gillian tett break.

Tagline for cake at 5.

Break me up a piece of that.

Cornerstone. If a chocolate bar scene at the post-war British invention, aimed at British Factory workers and office workers. He wanted a quick treat between the job but the company was struggling to make enough sales in the Japanese pocket. About 20 years ago, they were thinking that they should just withdraw from the country altogether until they hired some anthropologists. And what they found was that for a lot of Japanese people, a chocolate bar just was not associated with relaxation. Have a break, give me a break, didn't really resonate and Sandra Crouch's. Also noticed this other thing in this Japanese island of Kyushu KitKat sales with soaring between December and February each year. And they couldn't work out why until they send someone down there and realized what was going on. So traditional market research would have to do focus groups with these specific structure question, but an anthropologist approach is different, right? You begin by observing with an open mind see what you can see.

And with the Anthropologist found was it kicked out was really popular among the islands teenagers. Teenagers in Kyushu would notice that the Japanese phrase which means you later, we shall overcome with bracelet in sound to Kit Kat and so seemingly as a joke of a teenager, the thought of giving each other Kit, Kat bars, have a good-luck token. And the Japanese managers of nestle said, let's see if we can try to use this and started marketing Kit Kat under the kittycat Sue tag. And within a couple of years it has taken off in a dramatic fashion as a good luck prayer token for teenagers to his arms. Pre-written survey questions like a market researcher might do Anthropologie. Help save the Kit Kat bar in Japan but also helped another chocolate bar company, Mars.

I don't know, either Stacy but they also sell dog food and dog food was on the basis of nutritional science and biology. So they put old pictures of scientist and a healthy dogs. On the front of that, dog, food packet. But actually the Anthropologist found that dog owners are a lot more focused on something else, what are the main functions of dogs? Is that she nothing to do with animals is to do with humans because dogs help people inside a family bond together and talk together and it improves human-to-human connection Rob than just human to animal connection. Right now, it is inside the house like maybe in our beds on the couch is a member of the family and something that helps you connect with your family has ripped up their old advertising and packaging. And instead of having a picture of a vet,

With a lab coat, you're more likely to see a smiling family on a lawn brought together by their shared love of their dog. Is another example of anthropology coming to the rescue to be used by politicians and in public health, for instance, when the pandemic started to spin out of control in the US, Julian knew that masks would bring a real benefit and not just as a barrier to stop the virus. That's been a lot of study done in Asia, by anthropologists, looking at the impact of moth. I'm not sure. It's very clearly. That part of the benefit is psychological because after putting one on each day, the ritual serves as a psychological problems to people to change their behavior results to go to buy powerful symbolic element to it in terms of signaling to yourself and other people that you are up holding Civic norms, and trying to be responsible to the Grave.

People in the US are known for have to admit that when the pandemic started, I thought the New Yorkers would be the last place on Earth to try to embrace it is because they Pride themselves on being very individualistic. Says, New York is really smart about my messages about the New York tough. Don't be a turkey where I'm all about trying to really be country or shake and civic-minded and after a few months Mas Grande became almost ubiquitous. Became so much and Grange everyday life that now, people are still Weymouth even though they are not required to do. In fact. I just got back from Idaho visiting family and like nobody wears masks at all. They're almost nobody. Yeah. In fact, I got some kind of not great. Looks when I did wear a mask around, I wonder what the messaging was like over there. I mean, it was like, clearly, just the messaging about masks have been really different and in Julian says things like this can show us the value of anthropological inside not just for businesses.

But also for policy-making, how to really matters. You have to use social and medical supplies to try and beat a pandemic. Stephanie couches on face in it so they can change and important. We don't have to take me for granted and studly we could really benefit by looking at each other and thought it would and apology does is throw and look around the world of different cultures and only American leaders had looked across the Asia and try to hum Leland lessons early on.

Boy, with a projector, the pandemic could be different.

Gillian, tett new book is code after fishing at, do wait to see in business and life.

This episode of the indicator was produced by Emma Peasley and fact check by Michael Huff. It was edited by Kate concannon and the indicator is a production of NPR.

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