The myth of globalization

I’ve just finished reading MegaChange 50: The world in 2050, written by a group of writers from the Economist. As the title suggests, the book gives a view on the trends shaping the world and its development in the future. Amidst the many fascinating themes and projections, the chapter that surprisingly captured my attention was the one on globalization. After all, the concept is hardly new - global markets have existed since the late 1800’s, and the term has been commonplace since the 1990’s. Laza Kekic  (one of the book’s authors) defines globalization as “The extension of markets across frontiers. The declining importance of national boundaries on goods capital and technology, culture and ideas.”  He has it spot on when he says despite globalization being one of the most powerful trends since WW2, in reality it’s not gone as far as people think, we’re actually only semi-globalized. This idea is always apparent to me than when I interact with retail banks. Banks are missing a trick Many such banks point to their global status as a gold star in the hopes of enticing today’s more affluent, contemporary consumer to develop lifetime value from these global citizens where-ever they travel, live or work.  Since 2008, however, regulation of banks has increased, enabled by the joint efforts of banks and regulatory bodies. The laws that have become practice were designed to increase consumer confidence and shift the power balance in a complex sector that was perceived to be badly broken. Yet, protectionism seems to have evolved into operating strategies that are more about institutional control than collaborative consumerism and trends towards...

Brand Citizenship®: a 360 model democratizing CSR

Weary of being frustrated consumers want to be involved in creating a more positive future As we’ve again been reviewing participants’ hopes, dreams and fears for 2013 from our last round of CultureQ quant, we can’t help but be reminded that people are seeking greater signs of unity.  Our respondents in both the US and the UK are tired of the divisiveness that they perceive is preventing politicians from finding solutions to our most pressing economic and societal challenges.  Yearning to become CEOs in control of their own lives they again emphasize that they’re seeking products and services that help and their families them simplify routines and simultaneously inspire day-to-day living, aid the planet and help society at large.  Overall, many of our participants now appear to have accepted that they’re living in a new normal; they’re somewhat weary of being frustrated and want to be involved in shaping the solution - in creating a more positive future.  As one eloquently stated, “I hope to become the change you want to see in the world, make choices that will impact my community for the better.” Brand Citizenship aligns sustainability and other social responsibility concepts with individual product and service brand propositions And, here’s where Brand Citizenship fits in so perfectly.  Through laddering initiatives up from meeting an individual consumer’s needs to enriching people’s lives and bettering society, it aligns sustainability and other social responsibility concepts with individual product and service brand propositions, rather than managing them solely at corporate levels.  In doing so, it enables consumers to co-create the future alongside corporations through choosing to purchase products and services...

Amazon: Keep calm & consistently practice good brand citizenship

Poor Amazon. What a difficult few months it has experienced. Back in Summer/Autumn 2012, the brand that defines Internet retailing was riding the crest of a wave. Our CultureQ participants ranked it as both a leader and a good brand citizen. Millennials, Gen Xers and Baby Boomers alike in the UK and US believed Amazon offered products and services that simplified and enriched their lives by making shopping easier and often times cheaper. What’s more, they touted the brand for its efforts to define new lifestyles and ways of doing things. The last few months, however, have been a roller coaster ride for Amazon’s brand reputation. Despite gathering larger than ever revenues last year and sitting on pile of cash close to $9bn, the company reportedly paid paltry levels of corporation tax in Europe, something which doesn’t sit well at a time when every day people are feeling the full force of tighter fiscal management. In February, the brand’s new Kindle Whitepaper ad, Perfect at the Beach, which makes a non-issue of gay marriage, was well received by some. Early March and another hiccup - its decision to stock the awful Keep Calm and Rape Them, Hit Them, and Knife Her tee shirt line. Brand leadership requires a connection to social context With the shooting in Connecticut still fresh in American’s minds, it’s no wonder people across generations are reporting they’re still very concerned about becoming the victim of random acts of violence (CultureQ, December 2013). Furthermore, some women tell us they’re especially concerned about women’s rights and civil liberties being compromised in the US during 2013 (CultureQ, December 2013)....

Gen Y: Then there’s the reality

Lazy, obese, and pampered. A few choice myths bandied around about my generation (Millennials). And, of course, then there’s reality. Our latest round of CultureQ (December 2012) reveals we’re actually a pretty earnest lot. Because we’re so uncertain about our futures we’re intent on staying healthy, completing our education, doing our best and working hard towards getting a job. So based on the insights I’ve gleaned so far from our Millennial panel I thought I’d let you know some of the things that are really going through our minds.  Keep your eyes open because there are more insights to come…. 1. Health and Sickness Generation Y’s overall health is marked by obesity, with figures such as Michelle Obama decrying the health issue as a “national security threat.” However, despite this epidemic — or perhaps because of it — many participants of our CultureQ survey named personal health as an important goal of their lives. Almost 20% of both females and males aged 16-30 cited weight loss, exercise, or simply general fitness as a goal. “My goal is to lead a healthy lifestyle, by not eating fast food or drinking soda at all.” Gen Y, also known as the Millennial generation, has grown up in the information era. With access to comprehensive product information thanks to the Internet, Millennials have the ability to find the best services and items to promote a healthy lifestyle. Millennials’ age and life stage are also likely factors in their willingness to participate in fitness pursuits. Many of them are are high school and college students and therefore have access to team sports, free campus...

What’s next for brands? Seven lessons from 2012.

As we’re awaiting the final results of our end of year study to gain a more in-depth understanding of the Zeitgeist, we’ve been discussing what’s next for brands in 2013 based upon our learning from CultureQ over the past Summer and Autumn.  As always, we’ve been reviewing the data from our research in the context of socio-cultural and political events. The highly anticipated IPO of Facebook, the largest in the technology sector and the second biggest offering ever, kicked off Summer. Surely, there was no clearer symbol of Facebook’s market dominance. Anticipation quickly led to speculation about the integrity of the offering, Facebook’s revenue strategy, and many of the company’s policies and strategy, and the public became more cynical about the extent to which Facebook values the people it connects. Consumers are growing notably more frustrated and less forgiving of brands they judge as taking more than they give Although participants in CultureQ respect brands such as Facebook as leaders, they are growing notably more frustrated and less forgiving of those they judge to be taking more than they give. Facebook is one of the few leadership brands that our participants did not also name as a top favorite brand. Increasingly, people’s favorites offer a mutually beneficial relationship that recognizes their contributions to brand development as well as their role in bringing a brand to life. Engaging with users as people rather than just consumers is especially important for brands that want to connect with Millennials. As summer wore on, Chick-fil-A aptly demonstrated the danger of a brand being associated with views that are misaligned with many of its...
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...
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