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Cultural strategy

A book review/summary/study

1 of 33
CU LTU RAL
STRA TEGY
CU LTU RAL
STRA TEGY
            WHAT I LEARNED FROM READING THIS BOOK:
THE REASON WHY SOME BRANDS BREAKTHROUGH WHILE OTHERS TREAD WATER.

         LEARNINGS, THOUGHTS & SUMMARY BY MAREK WOLSKI
CU LTU RAL
 STRA TEGY
 NOTE THAT THIS IS MY SUMMARY/LEARNINGS OF THE WORK OF DOUGLAS HOLT & DOUGLAS
CAMERON AND IN SOME PLACES I HAVE EXTRACTED/USED VERBATIM THEIR WORDS AS THEY SO
                           PRECISELY EXPLAIN A CONCEPT.
TODAY MOST BR
              ANDS
  FIND THEMSELVE
                 S
                 IN A ‘RED OCEAN’ OF COMPETITION


    CONSIDERING A LAUNCH OF NEW EXTENSIONS INTO ‘BLUE OCEANS’


       COMPETING USING ‘MINDSHARE’ MARKETING STRATEGIES
TODAY MOST BR
              ANDS
  FIND THEMSELVE
                 S
                             IN A ‘RED OCEAN’ OF COMPETITION


   Most brands operate in cramped mature markets - a red ocean - where there is an overlap of
                                functionality across offerings.


                                   EG: Nike vs Puma vs Adidas
TODAY MOST BR
              ANDS
  FIND THEMSELVE
                 S
            CONSIDERING A LAUNCH OF NEW EXTENSIONS INTO ‘BLUE OCEANS’


   Using the idea of creating a ‘better mousetrap’ for consumers, brands pursue innovation and
   new markets/categories where there is a perceived lower level of competition based on ‘new’
                                         consumer needs.


     EG: Coca Cola’s Mother enters the energy drink category with the only ‘all natural product’.

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Cultural strategy

  • 2. CU LTU RAL STRA TEGY WHAT I LEARNED FROM READING THIS BOOK: THE REASON WHY SOME BRANDS BREAKTHROUGH WHILE OTHERS TREAD WATER. LEARNINGS, THOUGHTS & SUMMARY BY MAREK WOLSKI
  • 3. CU LTU RAL STRA TEGY NOTE THAT THIS IS MY SUMMARY/LEARNINGS OF THE WORK OF DOUGLAS HOLT & DOUGLAS CAMERON AND IN SOME PLACES I HAVE EXTRACTED/USED VERBATIM THEIR WORDS AS THEY SO PRECISELY EXPLAIN A CONCEPT.
  • 4. TODAY MOST BR ANDS FIND THEMSELVE S IN A ‘RED OCEAN’ OF COMPETITION CONSIDERING A LAUNCH OF NEW EXTENSIONS INTO ‘BLUE OCEANS’ COMPETING USING ‘MINDSHARE’ MARKETING STRATEGIES
  • 5. TODAY MOST BR ANDS FIND THEMSELVE S IN A ‘RED OCEAN’ OF COMPETITION Most brands operate in cramped mature markets - a red ocean - where there is an overlap of functionality across offerings. EG: Nike vs Puma vs Adidas
  • 6. TODAY MOST BR ANDS FIND THEMSELVE S CONSIDERING A LAUNCH OF NEW EXTENSIONS INTO ‘BLUE OCEANS’ Using the idea of creating a ‘better mousetrap’ for consumers, brands pursue innovation and new markets/categories where there is a perceived lower level of competition based on ‘new’ consumer needs. EG: Coca Cola’s Mother enters the energy drink category with the only ‘all natural product’.
  • 7. TODAY MOST BR ANDS FIND THEMSELVE S COMPETING USING ‘MINDSHARE’ MARKETING STRATEGIES Where one finds which benefit (functional or emotional) is most valued in the category and least dominated by a competitor and then to stake out the claim and hammer it home as simply, consistently and frequently as possible - the classic ‘integrated campaign’. EG: BMW owning the ‘performance’ of driving , Mercedes owning the ‘prestige’ of driving and Audi owning ‘Innovation’.
  • 8. Mindshare marketing, def ined Key mental associations Add ÂlifestyleÊ elements Trends Fame Cool Rational Emotional Benefits + Benefits Fashion Social Freebie THIS IS SUPPOSED TO CREATE THIS IS SUPPOSED TO CREATE ‘DIFFERENTIATION’ ‘RELEVANCE’
  • 9. Mindshare marketing, Exp lained This use of abstract associations implicitly asserts that consumers value abstract concepts such as ‘fun’ or ‘high-tech’ and so when a brand conveys such concepts effectively, consumers will value the brand. BUT Such concepts do not exist as independent entities. Rather than “fun”, consumers experience a particular expression of fun – for example, dancing around the house in joyful abandonment to a favourite tune on one’s iPod. This is different from Audi’s version of fun, which is different from Club Med’s version of fun. Each brand’s fun comes to life as a full-blown cultural expression. THEREFORE IT IS A CULTURE NOT A BENEFIT THAT DEFINES A BRAND
  • 10. Mindshare Str ategy is weak IT FAILS TO CREATE DEFENDABLE POSITIONS + IT FAILS TO CREATE MEANINGFUL ASSOCIATIONS = IT THEREFORE FAILS TO CREATE LOYALTY
  • 11. Mindshare Str ategy is weak IT FAILS TO CREATE DEFENDABLE POSITIONS Because anyone can attempt to stake out the same claim, and with a large/smart media spend, can own it. EG: Easyjet was THE low-cost airline in Europe, until Ryanair came along and out owned ‘cheap’.
  • 12. Mindshare Str ategy is weak IT FAILS TO CREATE MEANINGFUL ASSOCIATIONS Because who cares if a drink or a phone is FUN or SMARTER. The associations are always ‘me focused’ from the brand’s world, rather than from the consumer’s. EG: Fanta is ‘Fun’. Do I drink Fanta to be fun? To have fun? When I am having fun? To be seen to be fun? What is fun? Who’s fun is it anyway? - It’s not a meaningful association for a consumer to a fruit flavoured soda.
  • 13. Mindshare Str ategy is weak IT THEREFORE FAILS TO CREATE LOYALTY Using a rational or functional benefit becomes a commodity as soon as a new entrant comes in and stakes the claim in a better way. If you are to believe your own hype that this is the reason why consumer’s buy your product, then what would prevent switching? Unfortunately nothing. EG: Ryanair is cheaper than Easyjet. They now own Cheap and there is no reason for Easyjet customers to stay with them. In the same way, as soon as a new low-cost airline undercuts Ryanair, they too will loose their customers.
  • 14. Mindshare Str can work wh ategy en IT IS EMPLOYED WITH A BETTER MOUSETRAPS APPROACH. THIS CAN WORK IN 3 MARKET ENVIRONMENTS: 1 ) Where functionality is important. 2) Where there is significant variance in functionality across brands. 3) Where that functionality is easy for consumers to evaluate. Where one of the above 3 do not exist (which is more often than not), culture - not an abstract mental association - takes over in guiding consumers’ perceptions of functionality.
  • 15. The new w ay USE CULTURAL STRATEGY TO INNOVATE, NOT A TECHNICAL IMPROVEMENT OR PRODUCT NOVELTY, BUT A CULTURAL EXPRESSION FOR THE BRAND WHEREBY IT HAS REAL MEANING IN THE CONSUMER’S PERSONAL CONTEXT IN THIS WORLD.
  • 16. CU LTU RAL INN OVA TION CULTURAL STRATEGY IS WHERE THE BLUEPRINT FOR BRAND ACTIVITY IS DEFINED BY A CULTURAL EXPRESSION THAT TAPS INTO A CULTURAL IDEOLOGY HELD BY CONSUMERS. THEREFORE PRODUCTS, SERVICES, TOUCH-POINTS, & COMMS ALL EXPRESS THE CULTURAL IDEOLOGY THAT IS MEANINGFUL FOR THE CONSUMER.
  • 17. THI S IS NOT ‘AS PIRA TION AL’ MA RKE TING ASPIRATIONAL MARKETING POSITIONS THE BRAND ABOVE OR BEYOND OF THE WORLD/REALITY OF THE CONSUMER, ASKING THEM TO JOIN THE BRAND IN THEIR SPACE. CULTURAL STRATEGY IMPLANTS A BRAND WITHIN THE CONSUMER’S SPACE AND INVITES OTHER CONSUMERS TO BE PART OF IT. ASPIRATIONAL MARKETING: CULTURAL STRATEGY: SUPERIOR LIFE OFFERED BY BRAND CONSUMER’S Marketing to ‘aspire’ LIFE to a new place BRAND’S CULTURAL Injecting the brand CONSUMER’S RELEVANCE TO MY into the consumer’s LIFE REALITY cultural reality
  • 18. CU LTU RAL EXP RESS IONS ARE THE FOUNDATIONAL MATERIAL ON WHICH WE FEEL WE BELONG, ARE RECOGNISED AND ACHIEVE STATUS. They serve as compass points, organising how we understand the world and our place in it, what is meaningful, what we strive for, and what we should despise. Therefore its important that a brand’s ideology specifies a meaning, its manifesto and those it is fighting against. Cultural expressions consist of ideology, myth and cultural codes
  • 19. CULTURAL EXPRESSIONS: Ideology IS A POV ON OUR PERSONAL CONTEXT, THE CULTURAL CONSTRUCT AROUND US, THAT HAS BEEN WIDELY SHARED AND NATURALISED AS THE ‘TRUTH’. We hold dear many ideologies which allow us to function consistently, coherently and effectively in our social lives. Consumers experience ideology through layers of cultural expression, not as a declarative intellectual proposition. So ideologies enter culture when they are conveyed via myth and cultural codes.
  • 20. CULTURAL EXPRESSIONS: MYT HS & CODES MYTHS ARE INSTRUCTIVE STORIES THAT IMPART IDEOLOGY. CULTURAL CODES PROVIDE CONSUMERS WITH A SHORTHAND TO UNDERSTAND INTENDED MEANINGS OF EXPRESSIONS. For a myth to resonate with consumers, it must be composed using the most appropriate and compelling cultural content – cultural codes. It’s important to leverage these shorthands or cultural signals, as they simplify the consumer’s processing of a cultural expression. Without them, everything must be directed and explained explicitly to consumers - which decreases the natural ‘fit’.
  • 21. m akin g it cul tur ally BRANDS BREAKTHROUGH WHEN THEY BECOME CULTURAL EXPRESSIONS. WHERE THEY BEAR THE RIGHT IDEOLOGY, WHICH IS DRAMATISED THROUGH THE RIGHT MYTH AND EXPRESSED WITH THE RIGHT CULTURAL CODES.
  • 22. CULTURAL EXPRESSIONS: St arbu cks CULTURAL CODES Terroir coffee displays, intelligentsia quotes, “coffee that cares”, Cafe Estima, sanitised bohemian retail design MYTH Accessible sophistication myth IDEOLOGY Artisanal cosmopolitan foods
  • 23. CULTURAL EXPRESSIONS: Nike WHEN THE CULTURAL EXPRESSION HITS HOME, IT CREATES A PERCEPTION THAT THE FUNCTIONAL BENEFITS OF THE PRODUCT ARE SUPERIOR, A HALO EFFECT. CULTURAL CODES Poor black youths, chain link hoops, housing projects MYTH Just Do It: Overcoming societal discrimination through sport IDEOLOGY Combative Solo Willpower BENEFITS HALO EFFECT Functional Benefits of great performance, quality
  • 24. CULTURAL STRATEGY Met hod 1. MAP THE CULTURAL CONVENTION 2. IDENTIFY THE SOCIAL DISRUPTION 3. FIND THE IDEOLOGICAL OPPORTUNITY 4. LOOK TO APPROPRIATE SOURCE MATERIAL 5. EVALUATE RELEVANCY OF CULTURAL TACTICS 6. DEVISE THE CULTURAL STRATEGY * I have made a slight change to the terminology used in the book to make it more straightforward.
  • 25. strategy method: 1. CON VENTION MAP THE CULTURAL CONVENTIONS This is the tide in the red ocean that the strategy must swim against. Look to competitors to see how they compete to create customer value. Look to cultural codes in their marketing activity: packaging, retail, comms, CEO speeches etc. Research methods: Discourse analysis of category competition
  • 26. strategy method: 2. DI SRUP TION IDENTIFY THE SOCIAL DISRUPTION(S). They create ideological opportunities. As history unfolds and social structures change, these shifts can be disruptive, challenging taken-for-granted cultural expressions offered by category incumbents and creating demand for new cultural expressions. Disruptive shifts can be led by tech, the economy, social structure, demography, social movements or the mass media. Research method: Sociological Analyses
  • 27. strategy method: 3. IDEO LOGY FIND THE IDEOLOGICAL OPPORTUNITY A detailed discovery on how the social disruption is changing the world around the customer, the impact on their life and their views of the environment. What is the emerging ideology that customer’s are moving towards, gathering around or proclaiming? Research method: Media discourse analysis & Identity Project Interviews
  • 28. strategy method: 4. m ate rial LOOK TO APPROPRIATE SOURCE MATERIAL Identifying existing ideologies, myths and cultural codes that are embraced by subcultures or minority groups will help understand what it is that symbolises the ideology and how to be express it. Research method: Literary Analysis, Ethnographic Immersion, Brand Genealogy
  • 29. strategy method: 5. tac tics EVALUATE RELEVANCY OF CULTURAL TACTICS See if any tactics will help define and bring to life the work in progress cultural strategy . Provoking ideological flashpoints Mythologising the company Resuscitating reactionary ideology Cultural capital trickle-down Crossing the cultural chasm Cultural jujitsu
  • 30. strategy method: 6. str ate gise DEVISE THE STRATEGY Cultural strategy must be directive to device a rich cultural expression for the brand. As a result it must be detailed, specific and exemplary when explaining the ideology, myth and cultural codes. Forget the brand onions and pyramids. Detail the culture.
  • 31. NIKE E XAM PLE THE FOLLOWING ARE SOME NOTES TAKEN FROM ONE OF THE MANY EXAMPLES IN THE BOOK.
  • 32. NIKE E XAM PLE Cultural convention: Star athlete’s myth of feats CULTURAL CODES Poor black youths, chain link hoops, Social disruption: Rugged individualism housing projects Ideology: Combative Solo Willpower. Myth: “Just do it”. Athletes facing the most sever forms of social discrimination rely MYTH on Nike’s combative solo willpower to overcome these barriers and win. So Nikes will allow you to overcome the adversities you face, especially the dog-eat-dog Just Do It: labor market, to achieve your American dream. Overcoming societal discrimination through sport Cultural codes: Used the vernacular of each discriminated sports subculture. Spots were set in the American ghetto appropriating the bleak public housing high-rises, the beat up basketball courts with chainlink fences etc. IDEOLOGY Functional benefit halo: once consumers identified with Nike’s expressions, they readily made strong inferences about how Nike shoes would improve their Combative Solo Willpower performance. BENEFITS HALO EFFECT Functional Benefits of great performance, quality
  • 33. END THANKS TO THE AUTHORS OF THIS BOOK. IT HAS SHED LIGHT INTO THE DARK CORNERS OF TRADITIONAL MARKETING THINKING AND HOPEFULLY SCARED AWAY THE COCKROACHES OF LAZINESS THAT LAY THERE. SUMMARY BY MAREK WOLSKI /@MAREKTING / READ MORE OF MY THOUGHTS ON THROUGHTHETREES.TUMBLR.COM BUY THE BOOK ON AMAZON