‘I’ll Have What She’s Having’
In When Harry Met Sally – the 1989 iconic piece directed by Rob Reiner – there is a funny (albeit insightful) scene with the two title characters having lunch at Katz’s Delicatessen in Manhattan, New York. The couple argues about a man’s ability to recognise when a woman is faking an orgasm, with Sally claiming that men cannot tell the difference. To prove her point, she (fully clothed) fakes one while other guests watch. Sally casually returns to her meal as a patron (played by Reiner’s mother) places her order, deadpan with “I’ll have what she’s having”. It is probably not too original, but is there any consumer who enjoys standing by the counter to deliberate their meal choices?
As human beings, we thrive on community. Our interactions are meaningful because they provide us with a vast amount of information necessary to exist and thrive within specific social standards. When a friend recommended a film to you, did you go see it? It would probably depend on how much you trust the friend’s opinion. What about when four or five friends recommend a film, will you see it then? Such social interactions and their effectiveness indicate how important it is to understand social networks’ dynamics and structure. Being ‘responsive’ isn’t the end goal for brands, but paying attention to the deeper, abiding values and interests that change more slowly.
So, have ‘what’ exactly? Culture contains many things – purpose, lifestyle, opinion, experiences, and every other cool factor that might be difficult to quantify but necessary to understand. What the older patron saw was not just Sally enjoying her meal but also a story that could become a shared experience. If the older patron imagines that the food tastes exactly how Sally sounded, it becomes a story she can share with her friends; a consumer experience that could grow to become a cultural phenomenon. The story captures the spark that can determine new interests in the market.
This is not the information that can be fully captured with numbers. It might be too complicated to fit into a PowerPoint presentation or a corporate profile. Still, they provide context and can advance opportunities. Gartner analysts Jake Sorofman and Andrew Frank wrote that marketers’ data obsession is cultivating a generation of incomplete marketers. According to them: “Marketing leaders must remember that true brand intelligence lives at the intersection of head and heart, where the emotional self meets the analytical self”.
Consumers act within a context
The African market is enormous. On its own, the Nigerian economy has considerably big and distinct markets, and these differences can be traced to their different cultures and lifestyles. What can be accepted in Lagos may not work in Akure. What may go viral in Ibadan could be laughed out of the market in Kaduna. These cultural differences can affect business performance and could be a significant factor that determines brand survival and market longevity. Such knowledge enables brand marketers to create greater engagement, relevance, and improve business growth.
Experts have consistently confirmed the importance of big data. But on its own, it can be as meaningful as a bunch of scrambling by a 3-year-old. There is a need for deeper insights that brands and organisations can use to deliver tailored content to their audience, achieve the brand’s objectives, and serve their target market. Insights are not enough; they need to be accompanied by an understanding of culture. In other words, there needs to be context.
Marketing is not simple anymore. Brands now have to allocate their budgets across a multitude of channels, from stores, catalogs, and traditional media to websites and apps. Consequently, it is much more effective to operate from an excellent position of knowledge, where brands can make precise hits and invest in storytelling that connects.
Culture Intelligence from RED
Successful brands have woven their storytelling into the cultural fabric by aligning their branding strategies with prevailing cultural ideology. When brands identify their specific target audience, they can effectively leverage culture intelligence to solve more than just current issues. By understanding culture and associating with it, a company can develop a powerful brand image. Whilst there are tools to make sense of data, culture intelligence – specifically, Culture Intelligence from RED, looks at what affects culture and drives decisions. It employs these observations in helping brands and organisations manage a complex market. It also keeps track of the intangible cultural influences and unforgettable moments that influence consumers’ lives, attitudes, and decisions.
Built with two distinct functions, ‘The Masterlist’ and ‘What The Streets Are Saying’, Culture Intelligence from RED provides granular details that brand managers and analysts need to make informed decisions by understanding their interests and decisions. Insights from the tool provide leaders and brand managers in public and private sectors with a broad foundation for creativity, evaluation, and designing strategies that fully incorporate the ever-changing nature of customer behaviour and patterns.
There are over 20,000 data points covering People, Places and Platforms, including daily intelligence updates focused on how these data points can help clients make excellent decisions on planning, budgeting, and campaign activations. Through the Resonance Test process, data is further verified by a selected panel of subject experts providing observations and analysis based on experience, trends, and privileged knowledge. As a result, it differs by industry.
Together, these tools help direct inputs, recognise challenges, and identify growth opportunities by aggregating customer views, behaviours, desires, intentions, and emotions, as well as consumer decisions. Its intelligence capacity is enhanced by the best experts – culture insiders, all key thinkers and doers who contribute their thoughts, analysis, and forecasts on the most important cultural moments and issues.
What’s in it for brands?
Increasing competition has also bolstered the importance of culture. It has become essential for organisations to see how people perceive their brand and where culture shapes or alters their perception of the brand. Over the past year, the African marketplace has shifted. Brands cannot afford to depend on old data and analytics. A better understanding about the consumers, including diverging assumptions and context, will be opportunities to drive product sales and loyalty.
Culture Intelligence, which improves market knowledge and product innovation, increases the confidence of decision makers. It also improves the possibility of making industry-defining investments, and implementing brand storytelling that will defy time. Market and product strategists must see consumers through the lens of their shared passions, and identify signals that could turn those passions into compelling cultural moments.
From time to time, when the path of implementation becomes difficult, brands are more likely to be committed to the brand journey if it was carefully researched and analysed.
Ifedayo Adeleye is a writer, culture enthusiast and communication professional. Rather than travel to Abuja to slap sense into every ‘erring politician’ (which would be a crime), this is his own form of therapy.
He can be reached on: Twitter @that_PRGuy.