Millennials and Libertarian ideals

With the Presidential election fast approaching, politics have been top of mind for many of the Millennials we’ve been speaking to in the US through CultureQ.  In research last December, many started to express Libertarian-like ideals, mostly in response to SOPA, which had the potential to impinge upon their right to on-demand entertainment. Two thirds of registered Millennials backed President Barack Obama and his promise to deliver a “change we can believe in” in 2008. Yet, today, many of those same voters feel that while their candidate won, they have still lost. Current numbers show that less than half of younger voters plan to take part in the coming election compared to almost 70% for 2008. So where have all these Millennials gone? Sadly, a large segment likely will not vote, but many of the others have chosen a new standard bearer, the Libertarian Party. It’s not surprising, when you think about it. Libertarian ideals are perfect for Millennials; both groups favor open and transparent systems and feel that the government should not be involved with the minutiae of everyday life. Millennials, who have been empowered by technology since a young age and are entering the workforce during a prolonged downturn, feel that the political system is broken and needs to be fixed. Like Obama in 2008, Libertarians represent an anti-establishment movement.  They fit the bill many Millennials are seeking - they berate government intervention. Recently, there has been a surge in support among youth for Libertarian candidates, the highest profile being Representative Ron Paul of Texas. Many CultureQ participants qualitatively and quantitatively spoke about Paul.  And, despite him not...

Spotlight on Trader Joes: hip, cool and off-beat

Poring over the Q2 data of our CultureQ research, I of course found countless insights about those big-name brands I expected to dominate the discussions—blue chip brands like Apple, Ford, and Nike, and social media giants like Facebook and Twitter. But I was fairly surprised to see that Trader Joe’s was mentioned nearly as much as the expected set (albeit most often by trend setters and early adopters), and greatly intrigued by the enthusiastic clamoring of our participants for this quirky chain of grocery stores. According to our data, Trader Joes’, or “TJ’s” as its loyal customers call it, has cultivated an eclectic, cult-like following of Millennials. It seems they love everything about TJ’s from its products to its employees to its kitschy store design, and their intimate connection with the brand is captured in their CultureQ musings. The first Trader Joes opened in 1967, the first trademark Hawaiian shirts were donned by employees in 1969, and since then, the store has expanded into a small grocery store empire of over 350 stores in 30 states. And all the while, Trader Joe’s has retained its quirky vibe and “neighbourhood feel despite being a chain,” as one CultureQ participant reflects. Despite its hundreds of locations, it somehow it still feels local and original, which adds to its appeal. It still promotes itself as “Your Neighborhood Grocery Store,” and its stores are tucked away in intriguing locations, such as a beautiful, old architectural-gem-of-a-bank in Brooklyn that another participant labelled a “palace of food.” Trader Joe’s is cool, but in an off-beat way. It seems that their coolness is a product of...
The Creative Capital for Hipsters

The Creative Capital for Hipsters

Choosing where you live determines a number of important things: whether or not you need a car, if you will live in a house or an apartment, and in it’s own way the types of industries you can work in.  What we don’t usually consider is that sometimes the decision of where to live was made for us on a more subconscious level. Research has been done recently on this by psychologists at Cambridge and the University of Texas. One thing that pops up when you speak to Millennials deciding on where to live is where are the creatives, those who are often associated with being open and embracing new experiences, moving. These are the people who are going out and effecting change in the world as entrepreneurs, business leaders, and social enterprisers. The notable hot spots for creatives today are San Francisco, New York, Austin, Nashville, and Denver (in terms of being open to experience). One place that is surprisingly left off the map, though, is a small city in the smallest state, Providence. I don’t think that it is coincidence that this New England city shares its name with human destiny. In fact that is how Providence got its name in 1636, from Roger Williams as he was a religious exile from the Puritan Massachusets Bay Colony. Since Williams’ time, the city has grown organically and seen much change. Just look at the various monikers that have developed, “The Beehive of Industry,” ” The Rennaisance City,” and now “The Creative Capital.” It should not come as a surprise that Providence attracts a creative and intellectual population; Brown...

Wooed by great Customer Service

I recently had what I consider to be an outstanding customer service experience. I’d been looking, looking, looking for an area rug to, not just fill the space under my coffee table, but to make my new apartment cozier.  I’d been close to pulling the trigger a few times, but had not yet felt compelled to pull out my credit card. Then a friend suggested I look at Angela Adams’ rugs.  A quick tour around the site and I was hooked – not only were the rugs great, the prices were good and I loved the intimacy of their site with insight into the people behind the designs and the company.  (www.angelaadams.com) So, after a quick poke around, I finally pulled that trigger on a cream textured 5 x 8 rug which was, BONUS, on sale.  As  I clicked on the thumbnail image of the rug on the site, I was surprised that I could not get any further. Rather than being sent to a shopping cart, I was instructed to call a 1 800 number to complete the sale. Grrr, at first, slightly irritated by this, I picked up the phone and dialed. My irritation was dissipated immediately as what I pictured to be a young woman, sitting in a nice green laid-back town in Maine, where Angela Adams is headquartered, cheerily answered the phone. ‘Lilly’ kindly explained that the reason for not being able to order directly from the site was due to limited availability – in fact there was just one of the rugs left.  She quickly put a hold on the rug to ensure that none of...

Brand Citizenship: 7 principles for integrating CSR initiatives into brand development

Insights from our Q1 CultureQ study led us to acknowledge that many people (aka consumers) believe brands have a responsibility to progress society. So, we recently posted this as a question (Do you think businesses or brands have a responsibility to help advance society?) across various social media sites to learn what people in the marketing communications and related industries think. Everywhere we posed the question, we got close to 100 highly animated responses. Clearly, the subject is one people feel incredibly passionate about. The following unedited snippets demonstrate the diversity of views and strength of opinion surrounding this new role for brands: “The responsibility of business is to advance itself. Every action since Roosevelt has exemplified this.” “A business is a reflection of the leadership behind the product or service being sold. And people have a responsibility to advance society.” “Any entity that exists by feeding off another is required to live within the ecosystem. Any entity that lives off another without contributing to the wellbeing of the ecosystem is a parasite and can live only as long as its host survives. Doing good is good for business.” “CSR motives are not necessarily altruistic - in fact seldom so. It’s just good business sense.” “Anybody who ignores society cannot build empire.” “Brands advance society in everything they do without ever having to take responsibility for all of it. Every business moves society forward in billions of tiny steps.” “At the very least they have the responsibility NOT to hurt it.” “Let’s not confuse “advancing society” (what Microsoft has done) with “doing nice stuff” (which is what the Gates...
Gen Y’s new working plan: Branding & Compromise

Gen Y’s new working plan: Branding & Compromise

We generally think of brands within the context of our everyday lives; what we should wear, what car we should drive, where we should eat. It’s that endless permeation that ultimately makes up our identity. Two neighbors may wake up and drive to the same office complex, but many of us would be very surprised if the Patagonia-wearing, Prius-driving lover of Chopped shared the same occupation as the Dickies wearing, GMC driving fan of Outback Steakhouse. The correlation between who we are, and what brands we are is inevitable, as is their influence on us. Despite being a young male who enjoys wearing backwards hats, I had never watched the show Entourage http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0387199/ in full. Figuring that it’s probably a good idea to have at least 10 obscure Vinny Chase/Ari Gold references in my back pocket at all times (I ultimately want to do something in entertainment), I have recently taken to watching the series from the pilot episode. Technically, I’m catching up on a cultural phenomenon; one which has often been described as a worry-free outtake on how young people perceived narratives of success pre-crash, and one whose positive reception was arguably responsible for the development of its now-defunct East Coast cousin, How To Make It In America http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1299365/. It’s interesting comparing these two shows for a number of reasons. Both were on HBO, both were developed by the same producer core (Marky Mark!), and both seemingly appealed to the same set of cocky-yet-somehow-justified male demographic trying to balance the fast-paced action movie/romantic comedy that is young people trying to be somebody in the world. While I’m of...

Millennials: a collective identity

Watching Mad Men’s Peggy smoking a spliff  while bashing out copy on her typewriter, I found myself reflecting on the 1960’s and the rebellion that defined the cohort that came of age during that era. As 70 million post-war Baby Boomers became teenagers and young adults in the 1960’s and 70’s, they demanded revolutionary thinking to change the fabric of American cultural life. It seems today’s young adults and older teens, or the Millennials as we’ve come to refer to the population born between 1980 and 1995, share some of the same spirit that defined their Older Baby Boomer parents at the same age. Millennials also want to right the wrongs of society, value progress and desire social reform. However one attitudinal difference distinguishes their behavior from that of their Older Baby Boomer parents and therefore how they are shaping the cultural narrative and what they expect from brands. Young adults in the 1960’s were more comfortable standing out, being the sole anarchist. Today’s young reformers’ identify is defined by the collective. Being part of a cultural movement or meaningful community addresses Millennial’s needs for productivity, control and security, and importantly validates their beliefs and opinions. Think of the student movements in London http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/8240181/Student-protests-key-dates-for-2011.html or Chile http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/educationnews/8240181/Student-protests-key-dates-for-2011.html for example that sat alongside the Arab Spring in 2011 as examples of Millennial protest.  Striking when compared to visions of Baby Boomer objectors at Kent State or the sole protestor preaching in Parliament Square. Today’s students are arguing for reduction of fees – what might be thought of as better access to education - as compared to their Boomer parents in...

The seven new rules for brand leadership

“The US tax system needs an overhaul.” “A policy rethink could control the sub Saharan population boom.” “The World Bank’s leadership selection process no longer reflects today’s sources of innovation and economic growth.” These are some of the sound bites from recent press.  Clearly there’s an underlying theme - a call for reform.  At Onesixtyfourth, we found this especially interesting given the results from one of our recent CultureQ studies. We conducted the study with 763 news-engaged and earlier technology adopter Millennials and Baby Boomers in the US and UK.  Our original intent was to understand how attitudes were shifting as the old year turned into a new one.  What emerged from participants’ responses, however, was a far more profound perspective on our evolving social climate and the new rules for brand leadership. It’s time for the role that brands play in society to shift The over-riding message from participants – it’s time for the role that brands play in society to shift.  Unlike in the past, however, Madison Avenue and marketers are not driving this change.  Consumers, in other words people themselves, are appealing to brands to acknowledge the social significance they have and take on the role governments and political leaders are no longer effectively fulfilling. They are asking brands to use their influence, know-how and power to help shape a better future. 7 New Rules for Brand Leadership So, what are the new rules for brand leadership? Rule 1. Be Visionary: engage people through a clear view on how you inspire every day life. Rule 2. Be Courageous: take considered risks that propel society forward and...

Arc’teryx Girl

Since the beginning of time (my time) I’ve been a skier. Any winter that did not involve skiing is pre-memory for me.  So, I’ve pretty much seen it all – in ski gear that is. Leather ski boots, to plastic rear entry, to my new Lange ‘slippers’ with Sure Foot liners. And while I once bragged about the length and stiffness of my skis, today it’s all about shape and girth. Then there’re the clothes, from my hand-me-down matching orange jacket and pants to my blue stretch pants with padded knees (so cool) to my back-country one-piece and now everything Gore-Tex. Yes, I’ve done my share to keep the ski industry afloat. And while I’ve been a part of this microcosm of consumerism for (ahem) 39 years, I was recently moved by how brand prolific it is. Recently while in Whistler (my mountain of choice), as if coming out of a dream, I suddenly noticed, how surrounded I was by brands. Brand names and labels covered me and my fellow ski buddies from head to toe. So I decided to count… brands that is. In a gondola lift of 4 people no less than 28 brand names were visible to me. Here goes. Helmets: Giro, Bern, Smith, POC. Goggles:  Smith, Oakley, Bolle, Carrera. Neck Warmer: REI. Jackets: Helly Hansen, Arc’teryx, Descente, Columbia. Ski cam: Sony. Gloves: Dakine, Marmot, Outdoor Research, Black Diamond. Pants: North Face, Burton, Hard Wear. Boots: Tecnica, Lange, Burton, Rossignol. Poles: Leki, Scott, Dynastar. Oh and throw in a few ‘Gore-Tex’ labels on top. Yes, there were only four of us in that gondola… and no,...

Good citizenship: the new essential for sustaining brand leadership

Transparency. Supplier relationships. Social responsibility. Privacy. These terms have all been bouncing about a lot lately whether it be in conjunction with Apple, BP, Google or just general conversation.  And because of that, few people have been surprised that we’ve become more focused on brands as social reformers and been speaking more about brands advocating on behalf of their customers over the past two months.  What has startled several of our clients, however, has been the fact that we didn’t purposefully set out to deliver this message when we fielded our quantitative research in conjunction with CultureQ this past December.  The intent of our study was to get a broad understanding of general sentiment for 2012 - of Baby Boomers’ and Millennials’ aspirations and dreams to see how far apart they were and how similar and different they were between the US and UK.  We had no idea when we began to synthesise the results with our on-going conversations with Millennials that the learning would take us to this exciting, new place.  With faith in government and political leadership low, people are looking for brands to recognise their broadening social significance and with that take on some of the responsibilities for the future of humanity. So, with this in mind, and in response to several requests, we’d like to share our Brand Citizenship Quotient from  our recently released CultureQ report with you here. Brand Citizenship Quotient Index (based on top brands named as leaders)                         **Smaller or very small sample sizes ***No mentions for good or bad citizenship...
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