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Cultural Capital


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A new philosophy for brand management in the culture-led economy.

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Cultural Capital

  1. 1. Measuring the RealValue of a Brand in theCulture-Led Economy
  2. 2. Cultural Capital // Volume 012 3
  3. 3. Cultural Capital // Volume 01 Welcome to Cultural Capital®. A unique new way of measuring the value of a brand in the real world—in culture.4 5
  4. 4. CulturalRelevance Culture rules our lives. It is our beliefs, our values, our language, our interests, our passions, our aspirations... it is the way we identify with our world. For anything to be relevant to us, it has to have a role in our life and for anything to become popular in our life, it must have a cultural role. The more cultural relevance something has, the more valuable to us it becomes: an artist’s painting, a pop star, a city landmark, a product, a design, even a brand. Yet while this intangible cultural equity is the source of all popularity, there has never been a viable method of measuring it. Until now. 7
  5. 5. Cultural Capital // Volume 01Introduction Consumerism was born of the marriage of capitalism and democracy. A clever ideology set in play to influence society’s belief that buying, owning and consuming the things we want will increase the quality of life and promote the social good. The media provided uninterrupted and direct access to millions of people who were raised on a steady diet of brands—all designed to make them feel happier, sexier, more confident, more successful... a satisfied consumer. Consumerism took hold of pop culture, it cultivated the idea of being an individual, promoted the importance of self-identity. And it worked. Economies grew stronger, companies increased their profits, employment was up, people felt free to enjoy a better life. The prosperity symbolized by the brands consumed gained massive status, influencing culture not only domestically, but across the world as trophies of cultural popularity. New Meanwhile the new generation is coming way to creativity and self-expression. But as we know, this story changed. Or more to the point, we are living Cultural Ideas of age, nurtured on collectivist values, Ownership has been replaced with sharing, through the start of that change. The flow of influence in culture is reversing. respectful of community and environment, and digital startups are rapidly replacing Society is now influencing consumer culture through our values and it is eager to perform their role as citizens the ambitions of corporate career ladder. changing everything. in society and find personal success by For businesses and brands to succeed in Corporations have shifted in perception from icons of prosperity to contributing to the greater good. these changed conditions, capitalism must distrusted symbols of mindless greed. Consumers are paying the price Social values are culturally charged, and change. It must answer to culture. of excessive living, and materialism is giving way to conservatism and the popularity of materialism has given sustainability. The ability to influence the masses through paid media is being replaced with the open conversations of social media.8 9
  6. 6. Cultural Capital // Volume 01 Cultural Capitalism The Change in Consumerism Social Change Social activism and the role of social media are a well-documented pairing affecting change. Public opinion influences political, environmental and corporate behavior across the world. The role of social values influencing purchasing behavior is also leading to a fundamental rethinking in the structure of capitalism. In a 2011 report, Professor Michael E. Porter of Harvard Business School published his opinions on this subject in a paper entitled, "Creating Shared Value." His work focused on redefining capitalism to create a value model where both economic and societal benefit is generated. The implications of these fundamental business principles go far beyond the marketing department, demanding that for brands to succeed, it is imperative they adopt and reflect the social needs of their consumers in culture. Digital Impact The role of social media and digital connectivity is at a tipping point for brands. The real difference now is BIG data. Facebook, TwitterSM, YouTube and the other leaders in social media were originally based on ideas—smart ideas of what people might want to do using the new Internet technologies available—but intuitive ideas all the same. Now, for the first time in history, the level and quality of data these organizations have gathered means that there is a meaningful insight to guide decisions. Changing Culture Our lives are constructed of what we think, feel and do. Our cultural interests Affects Brands and passions are fundamental to what makes us tick. It’s no new news that brands try to tap into and associate themselves with these interests—whether it’s sponsoring our favorite people and events, advertising within our favorite media content, or finding ways to enter the cultural conversation taking place at anytime. Brands Perform Brand preference is all a question of relevance within our individual lives, in Culture within our culture. If a brand is not relevant to us, even though it may be widely available and we may be well aware of it, it simply is not within our consideration for consumption, as it would not be useful or beneficial. Yet while much has been done to measure brand preference, little focus has been placed on measuring the relationship between brands and culture—the relationship that creates preference. Longstanding equity measurements seek to validate advertising in its ability to influence positive preference for a brand, but little if anything has been done to really understand how brands can influence their relevance in culture. The Cultural Capital® Study has been designed to answer this need, by creating the first analytical approach to measuring a brand’s cultural relevance, and providing diagnostic tools that can deliver meaningful insight to guide the strategy of a brand. Business Shared Society Value 11
  7. 7. What’s Inside 1 How to Measure Culture 2 Analyzing the Cultural Capital® of Technology Brands 3 Culture’s Most Relevant Technology Brands 4 The Power of Cultural Capital 5 How to Increase Your Brands Cultural Capital12 13
  8. 8. Cultural Capital // Volume 011How toMeasure Culture Introducing the Given the fundamental role culture plays in driving Cultural Capital Index a brand’s performance, we believed it must be possible to find a suitable way to measure cultural popularity and relevance of a brand. What we found is that not only could we measure popularity and relevance, but we could in fact value it accurately—in effect, we could put a number on culture.14 15
  9. 9. Cultural Capital // Volume 01 How to Measure Culture // Chapter 1 Measuring Culture Is Complex and So Are People The first challenge of measuring the value classify cultural influence, so that we of something in culture is to create a could understand how different audience system to measure culture itself. dynamics within genre groups play a role To do this we segmented popular culture in the cultural relevance of the brand. as a series of related genres based around While the ultimate goal of creating this interests, behaviors and social values. system was to provide meaningful data Then we considered which interests, that measured a brand’s Cultural Capital, behaviors and social values formed the our top priority was to ensure that motivations for engaging with a genre, whatever methodology we used could be and how actively audiences engage. operationally pliable in order to apply it to Finally, we constructed a process to the various challenges a brand faces.16 17
  10. 10. Cultural Capital // Volume 01 How to Measure Culture // Chapter 1A Three-StepMethodology 1. The Audience Social Influence 2. Cultural Engagement 3. Brand Preference and Relevance First, we isolate audience groups for a specific brand— We correlate personal views with the sense of influence If we are to create a brand strategy designed With insight into the values and cultural engagement either by age, life stage, demographic, gender or individuals have within their socio-cultural groups. to influence consumers through their cultural of an audience, we then explore the brands that really other defining factors. How do they see themselves in their social groups? interests, then it’s important to understand what matter to that audience for any specific cultural genre. Then we examine their values—both personal and How socially active are they? Do they look to follow or they’re "into" and how heavily it shapes their lives. We’re able to track top-of-mind/most popular brands social—to understand how an audience sees the lead opinions within their cultural genres of interest? We took a view of culture and how the interests that based on any number of varying characteristics world and how they relate with others. What are their Do they seek out the latest trends, or follow drive people manifest as cultural genres. This can be derived from their values, attitudes and behaviors. socio-cultural motivations? What personal and social mainstream popularity? broken down into 24 inter-relating genres. Doing this allows us to capture the attributes these beliefs drive them? This form of influence segmentation allows us to Then, each of these genres is filtered through a popular brands convey to the audience that engages understand the dynamics in play within overall values lens by which any consumer or audience within a genre, and then interpret their behaviors to cohorts, ensuring that future communications can talk perceives their world. translate learnings to the brand in question. to both influencers and followers in meaningful and So while fashion is represented broadly as a cultural engaging ways. genre, it is fragmented into many sub-genres such The Brands Role in Life as: High Fashion, Streetwear, Sportswear, Basics, For the purposes of the beta study, we selected four Luxury and so forth. It is also contextually different basic criteria for measuring brand preference based depending on the consumer type. Or, in other words, on the role it plays in someone’s life: one person’s aspirational fashion label and style can be polar opposite to someone elses. 1. Useful in my daily life Importance By taking this approach to cultural genre segmentation 2. Reflects my personal values Personal Values How my perception we can build an understanding of which genres are 3. Reflects how I want others to see me What I believe. influences my choice. important to a consumer and which are not. 4. Relates to my personal interests These criteria can be adapted to evaluate any specific measures of a brand or audience type. 1 Influences What guides my values. Perceptions How I view my world. 2 Cultural Engagement How my perceptions form roles in my life: 3 Brand Preference The Audience How my purchase choices My life. Entertaining / Experience serve a role in my life. Social / Shared Useful / Helpful Media Preferences How my information sources serve a role in my life. Through the survey structure, we question the Investment level of importance a genre plays in their lives Social Values How much time and measure their level of engagement based on What we believe. and money I spend time and money spent within that specific genre. on what I do. What this allows us to do is rank consumers by their level of interest and engagement to qualify how "into" any particular genre they are. Likewise, given our knowledge of their values Cultural Relevance is measured and self-perception of their own influence, we are as the difference in engagement able to gauge their level of social influence within level between people heavily and impact upon their favorite genres. This helps to determine whether they are actively shaping "into" any genre against those a genre—following it closely and socializing with "less into" the same genre. what they follow, or whether they are simply a casual observer buying into the mainstream. For the purposes of the beta study, we simplified the measure of engagement as those "into" the genre (who were heavily interested), versus those who were "less into" the genre, with lighter levels of interest and time/money spent.18 19
  11. 11. Cultural Capital // Volume 01 How to Measure Culture // Chapter 1Measuring CulturalCapital Is Competitive Given that cultural relevance is dependent on the level of interest, engagement and available brand choices within a category, we realized that we needed to use a relative measurement approach to score it. The Cultural Capital Score we assign to a brand is based on the relevance that brand has with any audience of people "into" the measured genres of culture, versus those "less into" the genres. We measure the difference between the more and less engaged audience members using a chi square statistic. So if those "into" versus those "less into" show no difference in opinion, there is a zero score. In simpler terms, the higher the score with people into something, versus the lower the score with those less into something, the higher degree of cultural relevance due to the change in popularity. Naturally there’s still the overall level of popularity any brand measured may have within an aspect of the cultural genre, but it’s the difference that shows the relevance, credibility and ability to engage an audience. The Final Score The Cultural Capital Index is unique in that it measures cultural relevance in a way that allows the brand to diagnose its performance in culture. It gives a sense of the overall level of popularity a brand has within any given genre, but more importantly, it shows how important that brand’s relevance is by determining the difference in appeal of the brand between those heavily interested in a genre versus those casually following it. For many brands, the starting point is the overall Cultural Capital Score. By aggregating the genre-specific scores, we’re able to determine the overall differences between brands to see who the real winners and losers are in terms of cultural relevance. The real benefit of the Index Score is the many ways it allows a brand to diagnose performance in specific genres, and to isolate stronger and weaker areas. Again, the starting point is the audience. If you realize that a vast proportion of your audience is into fashion in a big way, and you can understand why your brand is underperforming, then you are best positioned to do something about it.20 21
  12. 12. Cultural Capital // Volume 01 The Cultural Capital of Technology Brands // Chapter 22The Cultural Capitalof Technology Brands Measuring the Real Value of The Cultural Capital study provides a competitive audit the World’s Most Successful of brands within a shared category. For the beta Technology Brands in Culture test study, we selected seven of the most popular technology-based brands to measure how popular and relevant they are in culture. We did this in part due to their high recognition and engagement and also because of their crucial role in millions of lives. During the course of 2012, technology convergence and planned product launches have led these brands to aggressively compete for share of consumer spend, time and attention across an array of different platforms, technologies and social uses. Our study sought to understand who holds the competitive advantages in culture to come out winning and who has the most to lose.22 23
  13. 13. Cultural Capital // Volume 01 The Cultural Capital of Technology Brands // Chapter 2Technology Brandsin Focus Founded in 1995 for book lovers, is now the world’s largest online retailer. Amazon® boasts 15 Originally a search engine, Google® started in 1995 and has now expanded to include a portfolio of nearly retail websites (including Zappos.comSM and and 2 million + partners that use their e-commerce 50 web-based products and services, including Gmail®, YouTube®, Google Play™, Picasa™, Chrome™ and platform. In addition to revolutionizing e-commerce, Amazon now offers cloud-based services, most notably Google+™. The company is now branching into the operating system space as a platform provider for the for their Kindle® line of e-readers. As a go-to shopping destination, Amazon processes and fulfills a huge Android™ operating systems, Chromebook™ and Google TV™. Google is ubiquitous—it sees an enormous number of orders daily—on Black Friday 2010, there were a record-setting 158 orders per second. volume of traffic with over 1 billion searches per day. YouTube also sees huge numbers with over 4 billion videos viewed daily and boasts interactive users. More video is uploaded to YouTube in one month than all of the major U.S. TV networks made in their entire 60-year history. 2011 Interbrand 2011 Millward Brown Number of Ranking, BrandZ™ Ranking, Facebook Fans 2011 Ad Spend Movement & Valuation Movement & Valuation (May 2012) 2011 Interbrand 2011 Millward Brown Number of Ranking, BrandZ™ Ranking, Facebook Fans $1.4B 26 (+32%) 14 (+37%) 4.7M 2011 Ad Spend Movement & Valuation Movement & Valuation (May 2012) $12.8B $37.6B $1.54B 4 (+27%) 2 (-2%) 9.8M $55.3B $111.5B Established in 1976 with the Apple® personal computer, the company now boasts an array of design-centric and user-friendly devices at a premium price point. These highly sought-after products include Mac® computers, iPod®, iPhone® and iPad® devices, as well as software such as iTunes®. The company has Ubiquitous on PCs and Macs alike, Microsoft® Office products have made Microsoft a household name and turned into a major business and cultural force worth more than all the gold in the Federal Reserve, and long-term blue-chip company. Founded in 1976, Microsoft saw a steady rise to omnipotence. Slow movement commands lines at product launches that rival those at Black Friday. Upon the death of founder Steve Jobs to touch interfaces has left Microsoft striving to regain popularity with products such as Windows 8, the new in 2011, the outpouring of millions of fans made it a cultural event in and of itself—not surprising since there Windows phone, SkyDrive® and the popular Xbox 360® video game console. are now more iPhones sold each day than babies born. 2011 Interbrand 2011 Millward Brown Number of 2011 Interbrand 2011 Millward Brown Number of Ranking, BrandZ™ Ranking, Facebook Fans Ranking, BrandZ™ Ranking, Facebook Fans 2011 Ad Spend Movement & Valuation Movement & Valuation (May 2012) 2011 Ad Spend Movement & Valuation Movement & Valuation (May 2012) $1.9B 3 (-3%) 5 (+2%) 1.7M $933M 8 (+58%) 1 (+84%) 6.4M $59B $78B $33.5B $153B As the new kid on the block at just six years old, Twitter users 140-character status updates have infiltrated A dot-com bubble darling, eBay® is an online consumer auction and shopping site that started in 1995 and pop culture (@ - #Friday). The microblogging site isn’t as widespread as Facebook, but its users are devoted— continues to be successful with over 100 million active users. Companies and individuals use the site to sell the 140-million person user base sends over 340 million Tweets daily. The service is particularly popular as a everything from the world’s fastest car to purses. There is so much activity on the site that a pair of shoes news feed and a way to connect with celebrities (addicts include Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift and is sold every seven seconds and an iPad is resold every 2.3 minutes. eBay also owns PayPal®, an online Ashton Kutcher). Twitter has also played a major role in political activities such as the Arab Spring and the money transfer service and StubHubSM, a ticket re-selling platform. Occupy movement. 2011 Interbrand 2011 Millward Brown Number of 2011 Interbrand 2011 Millward Brown Number of Ranking, BrandZ™ Ranking, Facebook Fans Ranking, BrandZ™ Ranking, Facebook Fans 2011 Ad Spend Movement & Valuation Movement & Valuation (May 2012) 2011 Ad Spend Movement & Valuation Movement & Valuation (May 2012) $977M 36 (+16%) 82 (+15%) 3.0M N/A N/A N/A 8.6M $9.8B $10.7B Started as a dorm-room project by Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg and friends in 2004, Facebook has now seemingly taken over the world. Currently 1 in 13 people in the world have a Facebook account, and it’s expected to hit 1 billion users in mid-2012. Facebook accounts for one in five page views in the world, and 9 precent of online traffic in the U.S. When Facebook filed for an IPO in 2011 it was valued at $90 billion. Facebook has also made its way to cinematic culture with The Social Network, an Academy Award-winning film about the creation of the site. 2011 Interbrand 2011 Millward Brown Number of Ranking, BrandZ™ Ranking, Facebook Fans 2011 Ad Spend Movement & Valuation Movement & Valuation (May 2012) $427M N/A 35 (+246%) 67M $19B24 25
  14. 14. Cultural Capital // Volume 01 The Cultural Capital of Technology Brands // Chapter 2Measuring Cultural Capital Testingwith Young Adults Cultural Genres For the beta test of the Cultural Capital research methodology, To provide a meaningful sample of data, we restricted the Cultural we homed in on this dynamic group of young culture-focused Genres we tested to four large, culturally relevant genres: consumers to understand what’s driving their brand choices when it comes to culture. Not only do they represent the most active, dynamically engaged FASHION MUSIC MEDIA TECHNOLOGY cultural audience, they are also at the heart of the technology brands we chose to examine, so we were sure the findings would prove revealing and relevant to the brands in question. Our study includes young adults living in the USA’s largest culture-leading cities: • 18-24 years old • L.A. and NYC (DMAs) • Equal male/female split • Multicultural These were chosen due to their broad popularity in the day-to-day lives of young adults, which ensured a high level of respondent participation. We included respondents in genre-based questions if they confirmed they were at least "somewhat interested" in the genre in their day-to-day life. We then further segmented those respondents into groups of "into" the genre versus "less into" based on their level of interest and engagement.26 27
  15. 15. Cultural Capital // Volume 01 The Cultural Capital of Technology Brands // Chapter 2 Young Adult Culture Young adults continue to represent the most dynamic force in culture. They maintain a voracious appetite to discover their own sense of self-identity by exploring and experimenting within their cultural landscape. They influence both those older and younger than themselves through their impact in cultural genres from fashion and style, to music, language and beyond. In previous generations, this active, expressive and often experimental period of individuation in life has created a significant disconnection from the previous adult generation in control of socio-political and economic policy. Through the explosion of post-World War youth culture, we have now seen three generations of young adults coming of age and exerting their beliefs in very different ways. Today, being one of the 30.67 million young adults in the U.S. population aged 18 to 24 represents a unique set of conditions. These conditions influence and absorb the most dynamic shift in our culture’s history—a shift that is rapidly reshaping consumerism. Youth Connecting to unemployed the Internet 17.1% 48.8% 94% of 18-29s use the Internet 87% are on a social networking of Americans below 25 of American below 25 are are unemployed unemployed during the site at least 1-2 days/week summer months Living at home Average with parents income levels 59% 50% $31,240 average income for those $28,322 average income for those of men 18-24 in 2011 of women 18-24 in 2011 ages 18-24 in 2009 ages 18-24 in 201028 29
  16. 16. Cultural Capital // Volume 01 The Cultural Capital of Technology Brands // Chapter 2 Culturalism Replaces Materialism Emerging into early adulthood in the resulted in the heightened importance wake of 2008’s global economic crisis placed on gaining social popularity through has forced this generation’s young adults culturalism rather than materialism. to reframe their sense of ambition. In This notion of culturalism can be measured Fear of many ways, they have been raised for on many levels in young adult behavior success, with high standards of education today, whether it’s mining the past to find and nurturing families. Then they have real vintage treasures, acquiring skills and Anonymity subsequently watched their career paths crafts, customizing belongings, shooting disappear in front of them. films, uploading songs, or simply in the However, the new economic reality language and humor of tweets and status has also been a catalyst to refocus the updates. For young adults in today’s society, If we accept that cultural expression is de-positioning the dominance of material priorities of today’s young adults. The cultural currency is of far deeper value than ownership as the new measure of social popularity for young adults, then conversely ever-developing Internet has provided the things you can buy, mostly because it is a it must be anonymity, which is the new anxiety replacing "being broke." perfect platform for them to apply their genuine reflection of who you are, not just Indeed if creativity, funny/smarts and self-expression are rewarded by likes, friend optimistic, collectivist values and sense an image you’ve purchased. requests, views, sharing and followers, it creates a very public scale of popularity of enterprise in order to redirect their career For this reason, brands must realize that where the popular rise is pseudo-celebrity and influence, while those not part of the ambitions, ethics and societal beliefs operating in a market where the currency conversation are simply ignored. into a mass effect of micro-initiatives. traded is cultural popularity means that At a stage in life where gaining independence means figuring out how your life matters, Technology has also fueled their creative a brand’s perception must authentically it’s no longer good enough, or often possible, to aim to prove yourself through financial/ resources and removed the barriers of deliver on a promise to provide a significant material standing. Now, to matter you must play an active role in culture through diverse self-expression traditionally reserved for role in the life of the purchaser. It must contributions driven by your broad social agenda. celebrities and media broadcasting. meet the many cultural values expected For brands, this perspective provides a clear insight into how to help consumers: by Combining the conditions of restricted of the brand’s parent company, provide enabling their cultural expression. Help them find their voice, provide them with the financial means, access to every con- a source of entertainment or usefulness means to increase their social exposure, facilitate their contribution to the cultural ceivable source of inspiration, the tools for consumers, and deeply immerse itself conversation, and promote their ideas and initiatives. By using the marketing funds and to create, book-smart ability and open within their interests. the public platform the brand holds for the benefit of young adult expression, brands access to personal broadcasting has will translate actions into brand advocacy and purchasing loyalty.30 31
  17. 17. Cultural Capital // Volume 01 The Cultural Capital of Technology Brands // Chapter 2 Fashion The Role of Values in Fashion All survey respondents completed general values/attributes questions, which we can Key Insights Don’t underestimate the role of social values over personal values when communicating to the average fashion follower. Certainly with the younger adult consumers questioned in L.A. and NYC, mainstream It is often assumed that younger audiences are cynical and resistant to advertising and marketing from brands, but certainly this shows the importance of relevance in communications. In fact, we found that then apply to cultural genre responses to determine which values are seen as most values tell a different story than die-hard fashionistas. those heavily into fashion saw the role of advertising relevant to people "into" that genre versus those "less into" it. While Appearance, Social Status and Public Image as an important component of their engagement Perhaps it’s not surprising that Appearance was the most important value/attribute of are still very much the key to relevance with people with their fashion interests and brands. people who are into fashion. It was also the trait that carried the greatest distinction into fashion, the key to unlocking the connection Equally, we found that people into “Image carries less weight with between people into fashion versus those less into it. So it’s clear to see that if you’re between the core fashion followers and the mainstream marketing image, beware that Appearance only truly matters to those seeking it out. “Appearance only fashion consumer is achieved by translating the fashion value being consumers of average levels of seen as cool. This interest in fashion, in comparison In fact, we found that Nature, Environment and Wealth were all traits seen as more truly matters to aesthetic into a deeper social role based in success. could sound like an with concerns that carry a important to those individuals less into fashion. This shows that image carries less weight with consumers of average levels of interest in fashion, in comparison with concerns those seeking it out.” Perceptions obvious statement, deeper social role.” that carry a deeper social role. When we studied the psychographic portion of the but what it really tells us is that fashion is a by-product What we found most surprising was that Public Image and Social Status were seen as survey we examined the responses relating to each of status, not something driven by the appreciation the least relevant traits of the top scoring values, regardless of how into fashion someone genre that showed the most significant response levels. of design. We found people into fashion also enjoy was. That said, the preference in Public Image and Social Status was definitely a polarizing For fashion, one of the biggest findings was the being the center of attention socially more than those factor. It was seen as far more relevant to people into fashion versus less into it. difference in perception between the role of advertising less into it and see themselves as a source of what’s In every case, people into fashion displayed a higher level of relevance from all these and the sense of self-image. cool, while people less into fashion looked to others top traits when compared to less engaged individuals. Twenty nine percent of those less into fashion stated to determine their sense of cool. that they find advertising annoying, whereas 81 percent of those into fashion see it as a great way to learn about products and services.32 33
  18. 18. Cultural Capital // Volume 01 The Cultural Capital of Technology Brands // Chapter 2 Fashion’s Most Popular Brands: Into Fashion Less into Fashion FOREVER 21® FOREVER 21 Gucci® Nike® H&M® Old Navy® Nike Levi’s® American Eagle®/COACH® GAP® Among the cosmopolitan 18-24 year-olds surveyed, we asked unprompted which brands were most relevant to them in relation to their fashion interests, as a baseline for establishing the genre. We found consistently across both people into and less into fashion that the brands they purchased most heavily and frequently also ranked as most relevant. "Fast Fashion" retail brands were the real winners, with Forever 21 seen as consistently the most universally appealing. H&M was also extremely popular, but skewed toward those into fashion, indicating a higher level of relevance among more fashion-forward respondents, but less engaging with people less into fashion. Perhaps the most significant brand appearing in responses was Gucci. While not appearing at all with those less into fashion, Gucci averaged the second most popular brand with people into fashion, and in most cases pushed H&M into third place, losing out only to Forever 21. Given that the survey respondents were all of an average income level, we can determine that the people into fashion were into Gucci, not because of consumption level, but because of brand aspiration. This is not surprising when we correlate Gucci’s preference against the values traits people into fashion shared. For this group of young fashion-focused consumers, Gucci is the brand most closely representing their aspirations, shaped by the media and music celebrities who influence their tastes. Social Status, Public Image and Wealth are all traits Gucci personifies through its brand positioning and high-profile celebrity consumers, traits which directly connect with this image-led audience group. Aside from Forever 21, the other notable performer across all respondents to the genre was Nike. While Nike’s level of popularity varied based on the different responses to questions about the brand’s role in life, it was consistent that Nike has a broad base of relevance with the audience in relation to fashion and image. These findings reflect Nike’s long-standing focus of marketing to the cultural genres that influence this audience’s tastes in sportswear and street style, but also indicates that the brand could do more to increase the level of fashion-oriented engagement in order to defend the brand’s positioning as a leading tastemaker from mass ubiquity, where it could lose its edge in culture.34 35
  19. 19. Cultural Capital // Volume 01 The Cultural Capital of Technology Brands // Chapter 2 Fashion The Technology Brand Leaders in Fashion Culture performers in every sense, which confirms what we may experience for fashion provides a stronger platform expect, given a lack of a real role in the fashion space. for the brand to continue to grow both its popularity We examined each of our four Role in Life questions Conversely, Apple’s relevance demonstrated a more and tap into relevance with people into fashion and in relation to the seven technology brands we tested. potent draw to the brand, which perhaps is more fashion brands. While we only measured these mass reflective of the iconic design credibility the brand brands, it would be fairly safe to presume the biggest 85% holds and the caché held as a fashion item in its own rivals to their popularity in daily usefulness would be right. Certainly this is something Microsoft could the fashion-specific portals and apps serving fashion 81% strengthen if it wishes to gain ground among fashion/ content. PinterestSM, GiltSM, Asos and other interest sites style-conscious consumers. and retailers naturally rely on Facebook as a channel Into Fashion Finally Facebook was the runner-up to Google in for marketing, but equally Facebook and Google overall popularity, and while the relevance draw could lose out to these channels as consumers build Less into Fashion based on consumer engagement wasn’t significant, behaviors around the interest points themselves, and the opportunity for Facebook to curate a user’s no longer have a need for the middle man. 66% 2. Reflects My Personal Values The technology brands’ roles in reflecting personal values follow a similar pattern to use in daily life—both in 57% 57% terms of popularity ratings and also levels of relevance based on engagement. 55% The key difference we found was that Google’s score shifted to show a marginal positive relevance score, 52% indicating that people more into fashion perceive the brand as more relevant in reflecting their personal values related to fashion. 46% In pure relevance terms, Twitter again showed the highest level of difference between those into fashion versus those less into it. This further reinforced the brand’s role as a go-to reference for fashion followers, and 43% shows the brand’s solid role in reflecting the interests and personal image of fashion’s community members. 40% 38% 34% 72% 29% 65% 61% 19% 55% 51% 49% 46% 44% 40% 38% 37% 33% 25% 1. Useful in My Daily Life 20% Google was singularly the most popular brand within of people claiming Twitter was useful in their day- the genre when it comes to usefulness, as we would to-day lives was lowest, the difference in usefulness likely expect to be the case. between those into fashion versus those less into it In fact over 80 percent of the respondents considered was the greatest. Google to be most useful, whereas less than 40 This indicates that the role of Twitter holds a high percent consider Twitter to be useful. However, even level of relevance and usefulness as a channel for though Google’s popularity was highest, the level interests for fashion’s loyal followers. of stated relevance actually decreased with people Like Twitter, eBay holds a relatively strong position more into fashion versus less into it—so the more in terms of relevance to those into fashion, given its fashion-interested segment saw Google as less role as a retail channel. Even so, the actual overall relevant to their day-to-day fashion interests than level of popularity was lower than might be expected. those less into the genre. This tends to suggest that eBay is failing to really cut Meanwhile, Twitter’s numbers were lower in overall through with fashion followers in a way that connects popularity, but its relevance score was significantly their actual interests with the brand. higher. This was because while the overall number Both Microsoft and Amazon proved to be average36 37
  20. 20. Cultural Capital // Volume 01 The Cultural Capital of Technology Brands // Chapter 2 Fashion Into Fashion 4. Relates to My Personal Interests Less into Fashion The most interesting insight in relation to how brands relate to someone’s personal fashion interests is the jump in popularity and relevance for 65% Facebook in this role. 64% While it still sits behind Google in overall popularity, its relevance is stronger. Google’s high popularity could most likely be attributed to its ubiquity in this instance. Facebook’s performance is more likely a result of its ability 57% to easily connect its users through fan pages of the fashion brands and 55% 54% interests they’re seeking. 50% 74% 44% 42% 41% 69% 41% 39% 38% 65% 59% 57% 57% 56% 26% 22% 45% 44% 42% 41% 36% 31% 28% 3. Reflects How I Want Others to See Me Within the Role in Life questions, associating a In the study, we found that overall popularity of brand in relation to how you want to be seen by brands dipped in comparison to the other Life-Role others is perhaps the hardest area in which to gain responses, no doubt a symptom of the effect good data. This is because consumers simply don’t mentioned above. often think (or want to think) about their motivations That said, we found that the relevance of Twitter to impress others. really spiked in this capacity—even disproportionately to Although this is true, what we do know from previous its social media companion Facebook. This certainly studies of 18-24 year-olds is they are more comfortable demonstrates Twitter’s high level of Cultural Capital with their public identities and more consciously in fashion as a device to express not only your fashion aware of how their actions and choices shape interests, but also to broadcast how you want to be opinion of them. Likewise, they are more conscious seen in the world. of what brand choices mean to them in a social For this reason, it is perhaps the most effective “18-24 year-olds are more comfortable context. Peer groups are more vocal and clear on medium for social popularity and public expression their approval rating of brands, so the incidence of within the fashion genre. with their public identities and more dependable data increases the validity of findings, at consciously aware of how their actions least within this group. and choices shape opinion of them.”38 39
  21. 21. Cultural Capital // Volume 01 The Cultural Capital of Technology Brands // Chapter 2 Fashion Cultural Capital Index The Cultural Capital score of a brand measures its relevance against its competitors and shows the score as an index, where 100 is the neutral relevance. 163 121 Popularity | 32% 80 Popularity | 35% 28 Popularity | 53% Popularity | 71% 100 39 Popularity | 41% 119 Popularity | 59% 150 Popularity | 45% Our results showed that Twitter was a clear winner in iPhone and iPad, it has become the most culturally Fashion Culture Summary the fashion genre. Its role in the lives of those into relevant manufacturer without a doubt, and the There is a clear story that plays out within the fashion genre relating to fashion dramatically differentiates it from those less brand’s innovations both for product design and technology brands. First, the overall popularity of across all roles does into fashion. It holds down the top spot not only content strategy have ensured it is completely in tune not equate to active cultural relevance. because it connects peoples’ interests to relevant with both image-based aspiration and day-to-day Google’s strength is its ubiquity: It is the universal go-to reference for communities in their cultural life, but also due to its functional use. finding what you want. Therefore, it is certainly an important gateway to accessible social platform. It is also highly reflective of Google’s low “Twitter: Highly reflective any interest, not exclusively to fashion. But as a brand, it does not have fashion-interested users’ personal and social values. performance any meaning in the fashion space. It helps fast-track users to the values they crave most, is no reflection of fashion-interested users While this may seem irrelevant for Google’s brand strategy, it is something including Appearance, Public Image and Social Status. of the brand’s personal and social values.” to consider for new product innovations. Products like Google TV, Twitter’s potential has perhaps been overlooked awareness Google Play or Android are platforms in a different competitive category given its relatively small audience in comparison to or engagement level, but it does indicate it has no setting, where cultural relevance is a determining factor for the choices Facebook. However, its ability to build a relevant increased value in the lives of young fashion followers. consumers make to buy one solution versus another, heavily based on role in peoples interests shows it has the ability With the growth of fashion sites like Pinterest, their personal values. In this context, Google may lose out to its competitors to build stronger communities by offering a more Gilt, Polyvore or even eBay, and the continuing like Apple that have invested in building much higher relevance through meaningful role in interests. growth of app-based browsing, Google needs to their style and image-led positioning. Apple’s high ranking in the number two spot is most defend its role beyond utility function to feature certainly a result of the inherent style caché and a real role in the lives of those seeking out their image of the brand, which has helped it gain relevance fashion interests. among fashion followers. Through products like the40 41