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Cultural Insight and Strategy - A Sociological Agenda - TNS

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Presented by Michael B. Griffiths, Global Expert, Cultural Insight & Strategy, TNS
at Qualitative360 Asia 2013
19-21 November 2013, Singapore

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Cultural Insight and Strategy - A Sociological Agenda - TNS

  1. 1. November 20-21, 2013 | Singapore Twitter Hashtag #QUAL360
  2. 2. Platinum Sponsor Media Sponsors Association Partners
  3. 3. Cultural Insight and Strategy: A Sociological Agenda ©TNS 2013
  4. 4. Culture is a toolkit Culture defines us: it is the sum total of all our implicit assumptions and expectations But people are not determined by culture The strategies people adopt are framed by the tools available, but people use the tools in unique ways ©TNS 2013 2
  5. 5. Cultural analysis Takes surface level phenomena as expressive of underlying cultural structures and processes and interrogates these for their meaning By analysing phenomena in contexts We can begin to understand the underlying culture ©TNS 2013 3
  6. 6. Not manufacturer-centric Regards the consumer as product user Aims to isolate and freeze cognitive meanings of product / brand ‘How does my customer use/ feel about my brand?’ ©TNS 2013 13
  7. 7. Not consumer-centric Aspirations, purposes, problems, emotions – this is still an individual psychological focus There is much that consumers cannot articulate How does my companyprovided resource fit within this consumers’ mindset / lifestyle? ©TNS 2013 14
  8. 8. A different perspective SOCIETY, HISTORY, POLITICS, ECONOMY IDEOLOGY, INSTITUTIONS, GOVERNMENTS, MARKETS TENSIONS DRIVING FORCES OF CHANGE NARRATIVE DETAILS OF EVERYDAY LIFE – WHAT PEOPLE ACTUALLY DO, GO THROUGH, HOW THEY INTERACT AND SPEAK TO ONE ANOTHER ©TNS 2013 Consumer is cultural product Brand / product meaning generated in dynamic interface of practices with broader social discourses and ideologies “How is the meaning of consumption shaped by the situated practices & forces of everyday life?” 6
  9. 9. Consumer ethnography Observes practices in natural settings & distinguishes between what people do & what people say (representations) Listening & asking; seeing & hearing ©TNS 2013 Looks to explain disconnections between these in terms of the constraints organizing people's worlds – since this is often where the communication opportunity lies 7
  10. 10. Semiotic analysis What signs organize communication? What codes are communicated in their combination? Logos, symbols; protagonists; names, strap lines, keywords; non-verbal communication; temporal context; technique; juxtaposition; narrative. CHIVALRY (Royal Imperial court and Arthurian knights translated into contemporary modernity) • • • • ©TNS 2013 Partnership: trust, reciprocity Class / prestige: horses = well-bred person, family, background Prosperity: dynamism, vitality Romance + respect for women (in the China context) 8
  11. 11. Discourse analysis We search magazines, news media, blog forums, TV, movies etc for product category trends, relevant popular culture trends, and broader target market trends  Identify discourses influencing the situation  Look for codes evolving within each of these discourses:  How are similar themes being communicated across contexts?  Search for correspondences and/or discords between discourses  Social / economic shifts Which are often evidence of cultural tensions & imminent cultural change  Generate hypotheses from these findings ©TNS 2013 Cultural tensions DISRUPTION: THE DRIVING FORCE OF CHANGE Further cultural tensions New attitudes and discourses New forms of practice 9
  12. 12. Building insight = strategy Metaphor Analysis - Procedure Pose research questions Finding metaphors Discourse structure Identification of linguistic metaphors How parts of text or talk contribute to the whole Building metaphor groups Discourse topics or themes aggregation into semanticallyconnected groups systematic metaphors Metaphor clusters and absences Local discourse action analyse distribution of metaphors across talk or text analyse talk or text Metaphor scenarios infer narratives around metaphors Answer research questions ©TNS 2013 Adapted from MetNet meeting Milton 10 Keynes, 2006
  13. 13. An example We look first to contradictions In the Chinese cultural context, there exist many contradictions: Pre-reform Planned economy Communist blocs Rural migrant Working masses vs. vs. vs. vs. vs. Post-reform Market economy Skyscrapers Urban resident Emergent middle class Myths are created as a fallout Myths resolve cultural contradictions ©TNS 2013 11
  14. 14. “Romantic” rural tourism New attitudes and practices: - Rural tourism - Farming as leisure New forms of consumption Social shift: boom in car ownership Urbanites explore countryside New cultural representations ©TNS 2013 12
  15. 15. Nostalgia for the “rural” in the city Repurposing of derogatory terms for rural folks – as cute / folksy ‘Hometown’ style restaurants – drawing on the same symbolic codes ©TNS 2013 ‘Chilled out’ / ‘Modern’ versions of Cultural Revolution imagery 13
  16. 16. The same emergent code everywhere… ‘Ethnic’-style clothing in fashionable markets Repurposing of derogatory term on snack brand Rural / nature codes on water bottle ©TNS 2013 14
  17. 17. Self/Other - Basic oppositions (Adapted from: Griffiths et al. 2010) Self Rule Order Human Culture Controlled Lawful Clean ©TNS 2013 : : : : : : : : Other Disrule (absence of rule) Disorder Animal Nature Uncontrolled Lawless Dirty 15
  18. 18. Self/Other –Romantic Reappraisal (Adapted from: Griffiths et al. 2010) Self : Constraint (rule) : Predictable (order) : Artificial (human) : Urban (culture) : Reserved (controlled): Conventional (lawful) : Formal Sterile (clean): ©TNS 2013 Other Freedom (disrule, absence of rule) Unpredictable (disorder) Natural (animal) Rural (nature) Impulsive (uncontrolled) Creative (lawless) Fertile (dirty) 16
  19. 19. Ideological innovation Desirable Materialism Consumption Hedonism New rural purity Rural Urban Poverty Ugliness Disease Pollution Corruption Impurity Undesirable ©TNS 2013 17
  20. 20. Strategic implications: • • • • Consumer trends Marketing and communications Environmental management China’s future Real-world results: • Two award-winning campaigns • Sales +46% vs. +25% for the category • Brand as the #2 market player versus #5 ©TNS 2013 18
  21. 21. Creative / political strategy – rural heroes         Poor rural boy Real-life migrant story Discovered by director Cast as hardworking bumbling country-bumpkin In show about military unit Which valorizes effort & overcoming Becomes accidental hero Adopted by media as national champion / icon = redrawing of urban / rural boundary = new lines of inclusion & exclusion = new form of social engineering* ©TNS 2013 Implications for brands: - Emphasize struggle not just aspiration - Equity vs. inequity - Social conscience - Poetic justice *Source: Griffiths & Zeuthen (2014) ‘Bittersweet: Chiku Civilization’ - forthcoming 19
  22. 22. Cultural strategy Not just functional benefits + emotional territories but grounded in society and culture (1) A brand advances an ideology (2) Expressed by myth + cultural codes (3) That resolves a cultural tension (4) Caused by a social disruption (5) Via source materials repurposed from subcultures, movements and media myths ©TNS 2013 Source: Holt, D. and Cameron, D. (2010), 20 ‘Cultural Strategy’, Oxford
  23. 23. Conclusions / Implications Conduct research with a broader focus - on culture and society, rather than on narrow predefined markets Shift the emphasis towards method + strategic insight (i.e. thinking, concepts, and the application of tools) Brand strategy not just tradeoffs over functional benefits + emotional territories but grounded in society and culture Different priorities for sampling – because focus is on meaning not marketing objectives: flexible, constantly reformulate frames, deliberately sample outliers, oppositional examples. Rethink client-agency interactions so that the holistic ambitions of cultural analysis have primacy ©TNS 2013 Ethnography should be reclaimed as a mode of cultural analysis – not abused as a term for on-site interviews 21
  24. 24. Michael B. Griffiths +86 189 1817 5697 ©TNS 2013 22
  25. 25. Platinum Sponsor Media Sponsors Association Partners
  26. 26. November 20-21, 2013 | Singapore Twitter Hashtag #QUAL360