Water introduces Culture Signs, a consumer knowledge tool

By Khushboo Tanna , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | March 04, 2009
The tool has been introduced in the APAC region for the first time and is already used by DDB offices globally

Water, the design and strategy unit of the Mudra Group, has introduced Culture Signs, a new consumer knowledge tool to predict future cultural and behavioural shifts. The tool, which is already used by 52 DDB offices across Europe and America, has been implemented in the APAC region for the first time.

Culture Signs collects and orchestrates various signs within a society to determine why a change is occurring and where it is heading. The thought behind the tool is that society will follow a trend till it gets saturated with it and subsequently, will phase it out. The trend will return back to the society in a modified way. For example, 'bell bottom' trousers were in fashion sometime back, were phased out and later came back as flared pants.

& #BANNER1 & #Ashish Mishra, chief strategist and business head, Water, says, "Culture Sign's predictive powers can be leveraged for marketing and communication solutions ranging from new product development and positioning concepts to identifying insights."

Conceptually, Culture Signs uses a sociological approach to research and the focus is on what people do, instead of what they say they want to do. In essence, the process employs two constituents - 'signs' and a sociological construct.

Mishra says that signs are observations of any kind that make one wonder. It could be a statistic, such as 'There is a 25 per cent rise in consumption in the liquor industry over the past year', or a behavioural truth such as 'Kids these days are burdened with a lot of extra classes as parents want their kids to be winners in studies as well as extracurricular activities'.

The first step is to collect a large number of these signs. The next step is to form clusters of the signs that seem to be forming a pattern, and label them accordingly. After that, the sociology theory of saturation peaks and trend reversals is applied. This ensures that knowledge of the past and present trends will work as a base to forecast future trends.

Culture Signs has been used for the Union Bank rebranding process. An average customer of this bank is around 30-40 years old. The bank wanted reach out to the young crowd (which has migrated to bigger cities and not the urban city-bred youth) as a part of the rebranding process.

The thought behind reaching out to this target group is that they come to big cities to earn fame and fortune and they consider their families to be their support. They look up to their families for everything, from advice to financial planning.

Over time, they start looking up to the bank for their financial planning. Also, they are intimidated by relationship managers of private banks and hence communication was kept simple to show the bank in a friendly way. The tagline, Good people to bank with, reiterates the point.

Globally, Culture Signs has been used for various brands.