We love what we do -- uncover human behavior that leads to elegant solutions for our clients
Context-Based Research and Design
Context was founded in 1999 by Robbie and Belinda Blinkoff and advertising executive Chuck Donofrio. Robbie and Belinda were back from their dissertation research in Papua New Guinea and struck up a conversation with Chuck about bringing the power of cultural anthropology and ethnography to understanding consumer behavior. Chuck had just seen Rick Robinson of E-Lab present at a conference and felt this was a great direction. A key to Context’s early success included this connection with an advertising agency. A second key was the decision to build anthrojob.com – a database to attract a global force of cultural anthropologists to help us on our projects.
You might wonder why we did not use the word ethnography in our name. Well, in the late 90s we thought it was more of a risk than a reward. And the idea of using the words cultural anthropology did not even come up in conversation! Today of course, ethnographers and cultural anthropologists are a mainstay in business.
Doing cultural anthropology and ethnographic research remains a mainstay of our business however the development of design thinking, with its rich set of tools and problem solving techniques, has only made our work better. With this full suite of tools, Context has embraced its role as strategic innovators and problem solvers shop – offering business critical insight grounded in our work.
Context’s first projects were for WL Gore and Associates (the makers of Gore-Tex and a client of the ad agency at the time) and a global appearance project for Procter & Gamble. Over the last 17 years, Context has worked in all categories of business with some of the world’s greatest companies – including Google, NIKE, Adobe, The Gates Foundation, American Express, Microsoft, General Mills, Kraft Foods, Sony and many others.
Along the way Context produced multiple acclaimed proprietary reports on life and culture changing events in the USA – including in-depth research on 9/11 and the recession of 2008. And Context’s Managing Partner, Dr. Robbie Blinkoff, became a cultural subject matter expert, appearing in major media sources and speaking at a variety of key conferences.
About us? We feel very fortunate to get to do what we love for so long and to continue to serve as a strategic resource for so many incredible people and organizations.
Dr. Robbie Blinkoff
A strategist, cultural anthropologist and ethnographer, Dr. Robbie Blinkoff is the Managing Partner at Context. Robbie works on and sees all projects through from beginning to end. Robbie’s awards include Fast Company’s Fast 50, Baltimore’s 40 under 40, and Washington’s Association for Practicing Anthropology’s Praxis Award. Robbie’s appeared on CBS News and the CBS Early Show and in Inc., Wired, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Newsweek, Newsday, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and many other publications. Robbie is a sought after speaker as well, and has spoken at conferences for Sun Microsystems, Adobe, Universal Pictures, Yahoo!, and the National Restaurant Association. He has a PhD in cultural anthropology on ideas of ownership among a group living in Papua New Guinea. He’s also an Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology and Director of The Pocket Anthropologist at Goucher College in Baltimore Maryland.