Marketing strategy draws on a wide range of information about the needs and wants of consumers, ranging from systematically gathered survey data, focus groups, and business reports to more anecdotal sources such as personal memories or the opinions of trusted experts. But what if we were to base our ideas about product branding and design on deeper histories – much deeper than most researchers would even consider – delving back into the history of human civilizations and even into the mists of our evoluntionary past?

In this fascinating webinar, Harvey Whitehouse – Chair of Social Anthropology at the University of Oxford – explores the science of consumer behaviour through the lens of our evolutionary history. He argues that once we have peered through that lens, we can begin to imagine the goals of market research in a surprising new light, one in which marketing helps to shape our consumer preferences from an early age in ways that are developed ethically, sustainably, and consensually in consultation with society at large. 

What you’ll learn:

  • How the ‘four whys’ of evolutionary biology could revolutionise the way we think about the role of market research in our societies
  • How group psychology and cultural dynamics influence what we buy
  • How branding methods have changed in the past and could change in the future
  • How market research could help shape the future of society in more positive and consensual ways

At the core of economic decision making and consumer behaviour are not just individual wants and needs but the interests of groups – from families and other strong relational ties to much larger-scale group categories with which we identify or to which we aspire. Marketing already takes this into account in myriad ways but without an explicit theory of why this is necessary or an awareness of how our group alignments have been forged by evolution – both biological and cultural. In this webinar, Harvey argues that market research has a unique opportunity to contribute positively to societal change and he sketches out a road map for embarking on that journey.

Book offer 

Pre order Harvey Whitehouse’s book  Inheritance: The Evolutionary Origins of the Modern World

  • At Waterstones  Price 25% off RRP  l  Code INHERIT24  (End date 13/06/2024)

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Harvey Whitehouse

One of the world’s leading experts on the evolutionary basis of human culture, Harvey Whitehouse has spent four decades conducting research in some of the most extreme places on earth: from the battlefields of the Arab Spring, via millenarian cults on Pacific islands, to violent football gangs in South America. Along the way, he has undertaken research at some of the world’s most important archaeological sites, brain-scanning facilities, and child psychology labs – all with a view to pioneering a new, scientific approach to the study of human society. At the University of Oxford, Whitehouse directs the Centre for the Study of Social Cohesion and is a founding director of Seshat, a vast database on human history that enables scholars and scientists to test hypotheses about the rise and fall of human civilizations.

In academic circles, he is best known as one of the founders of the ‘Cognitive Science of Religion’ a field which investigates the universal psychology underlying religious thinking and behaviour. Harvey’s work has featured in Scientific AmericanNew Scientist, Telegraph, and Guardian. He has delivered talks at the World Economic Forum and the United Nations and served as the Chief Consultant for a BBC Two documentary series, Extraordinary Rituals. The author of many academic books, his first major work for a public audience Inheritance: The evolutionary origins of the modern world will be published by Penguin Random House in June 2024.

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