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Hitting the Cultural Target

September 18, 2020by The Signoi Team

As our world becomes increasingly interconnected, the cultures within find themselves competing for dominance. Some are pushing for growth and recognition whilst others are blending in with those around them. Others, meanwhile, are fighting hard to keep their distinctive identities intact. The question advertisers must ask themselves in this dizzying state of flux is: what are the marketing strategies for our target market?

We may be living in the 21st century, but marketers are finding it increasingly difficult to assess emerging trends with confidence. Cultural shifts across a range of different demographics now occur at such a rate, advertising missteps are commonplace. Given the large sums of money invested (and often wasted), this has grown into a huge problem for brands.

We’ve all heard the tales of the brands who fail to understand the cultural context of their messaging, blundering into a cultural market they don’t understand with a message that’s unintentionally offensive. But there are countless more cases where they produce marketing that simply fails to culturally engage with their target market. It either misses the mark with its messaging, doesn’t speak with the right voice, or uses cultural motifs that are outmoded and irrelevant.

The value of knowing your market’s culture

‘Culture,’ says Mark Turner, Chief Executive of Saatchi & Saatchi, ‘is a very complicated and hard thing to understand and get right.’

Indeed. In fact, engaging with different cultures in the right voice has become such a problem, in 2017, Toyota hedged their bets and created four separate adverts to engage with four distinct cultural groups. This was to promote the release of their Camry vehicle in America, and they wanted their marketing to appeal to African American, Asian, and Hispanic audiences (as well as the mainstream).

Each advert used its own cultural motifs and had individually calibrated messages to appeal to the cultural sensibilities of each group. Additionally, they ran on different networks, in the middle of TV shows only popular with that demographic. And notably for Toyota, each ad required its own agency, with teams of semioticians and marketers using the cultural archetypes they thought would fit.

This not only illustrates the importance culture plays in advertising, but also how much values can differ within each cultural group. And whilst it worked for Toyota, the reality is that most companies can’t afford to employ four ad agencies. And using semioticians isn’t a guarantee of success, either, because their analysis can’t be objectively measured.

Fast forward to 2020 and its waves of unprecedented change – including the Coronavirus pandemic and the widespread protests that followed the murder of George Floyd – is it possible for marketers to observe changes in culture in ways that are more scientific?

After all, we talk of ‘culture wars’ and ‘a clash of cultures’, as though culture were a solid entity. We confidently talk of a ‘shift in culture’ but have no way of measuring the change. We deplore ‘culture wars’ but have no way of quantifying the losses and gains made on each side. And no matter what culture we belong to, we always remain immersed within it. Just this fact alone makes objective observation difficult. 

What if marketers could see the culture shifts in different demographics in the same way we read the weather? Is reading a culture in such a way even possible?

Well, it hasn’t been until now…

Target marketing strategies from the future

At Signoi, we’ve developed ground-breaking new software that uses the concept of archetypes to measure the cultural values in text and images. It could be open ended questionnaire results from female holidaymakers over 50, for example, or photos from an Instagram account marketing bread. We then produce quantitative measurements of that material, to see what cultural archetypes have the highest value.

Archetypes are defined as universal characters, motifs, and symbols that help us classify events, objects, and people through patterns of behaviour. They provide a lot of flexibility in the work we do, and range from the more general ones, such as the main 12 developed by Swiss psychoanalyst Carl Jung, to more tailored systems for specific domains (e.g. analysis of company reports, category marketing material, or websites).

By being able to give objective measurements of the archetype signals contained within a text or image, we can help marketers make creative decisions with greater certainty, because we analyse text and images to create consistent metrics. And this gives you a cutting edge over your competitors.

We’re revolutionising the world of marketing with the power of our analysis. Where advertisers were once guided by opinions that changed with the wind, they now have the scientific tools necessary to read the cultural weather with confidence.

Whatever your text or image analytical needs, Signoi can help.

Contact us for more information and a quote: andy.dexter@signoi.com

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