Australia here we come!

Hot on the heels of our 2018 opening in Singapore, we’re excited to be launching Crowd DNA in Sydney in July 2019.

With our first Australia-side clients already on board, Elyse Pigram, who’s done such great work as one of our strategic insights directors in London, is heading back to Sydney to head up the launch. We’re also in the process of recruiting for additional hires in the city.

Crowd DNA founder Andy Crysell: “We’re excited to be testing ourselves in a new city, ensuring our passion for the cultural relevance of brands gains traction in Australia. And after so much great work in our London office, where she’ll be much missed, we’re extremely confident Elyse is a perfect fit for taking charge of this launch – combining her understanding of Crowd DNA with fantastic industry knowledge of her native Australia.”

Elyse Pigram: “I’m really excited at the opportunity to launch Crowd DNA in Australia. What drew me to Crowd in the first place was its culture-first positioning; its mission to help brands understand – and leverage – the intersection between consumer behaviour and broader culture, and I’m really happy to be bringing that to my home market.”

If you’d like to find out more about Crowd DNA in Sydney, do get in touch with Elyse Pigram or Crowd DNA group managing director, Andy Crysell.

We're looking for a smart and energetic new addition to our London semiotics team...

This is a great opportunity for someone with two-to-five years experience to join our highly skilled and motivated team, working from our Hoxton Square base camp. You’ll benefit from collaborating with two senior semioticians, and get to work on exciting briefs across categories such as alcohol, finance, apparel, media and more – in the last year, our semiotics work has taken in craft beer, skate culture, the aesthetics of hiking, mobility, news in Africa and new codes of luxury.

We’re looking for someone who can point to semiotics experience in a commercial environment (insight, advertising etc); who’s presented their work to clients and demonstrates an understanding of different briefs; and who can back up their work with solid rigour.

Better still, you’ll have experience of integrating your semiotics work with trends, expert perspectives and qualitative findings; and a sense of how best to ensure the relevancy of your work across different global regions (you’ll get the chance to work regularly with our offices in other cities).

The role comes with great benefits (betterment scheme, training, sabbatical, company lunches and days out, flexi hours etc); the chance to work on some of the most stimulating and culturally-driven projects out there; and the opportunity to progress in an exciting and progressive business. To apply (attaching a CV and covering letter), please get in touch with Dr Matilda Andersson.

 

Next level organised? Born to keep even the trickiest of things firmly on the rails? We want you...

Project Producer – project management skills (£23,000-£32,000)

We’re growing our crack squad of project producers in our London office. Here’s what we’re seeking:

Demonstrable project management skills are vital here, as you’ll play a pivotal role in designing and running projects, with touchpoints including liaising with clients, suppliers and, of course, Crowd DNA’s in-house team.

You don’t necessarily need experience in insight and strategy environments – more a track record in ensuring projects run smoothly; managing timelines, sourcing costs, allocating resource etc. Any form of recruitment (experts, artists, influencers) or casting experience is a plus.

The role comes with great benefits (betterment scheme, training, sabbatical, company lunches and days out, flexi hours etc); the chance to work on some of the most stimulating and culturally-driven projects out there; and the opportunity to progress in an exciting and progressive business. To apply (attaching a CV and covering letter), please get in touch with Dr Matilda Andersson.

We're seeking skilled, passionate, culturally switched on additions to our team...

After a successful launch period – including cross-APAC projects in the apparel, tech and travel sectors, and some great content/thought leadership initiatives – we’re looking to grow our Singapore team. There’s some flexibility in how we go about this – hence advertising for mid to senior level hires.

The specifics of the role will, of course, be shaped further by your level of experience but, broadly, we’re looking for new additions who –

+ Come armed with the entrepreneurial spirit to work in a business that’s still in start-up mode in Singapore (though of course with the  support of more established offices in other cities to lean on)

+ Tuned in to Crowd DNA’s devoutly cultural perspective on insight and strategy work, and passionate about furthering that cause

+ Skilled at running or playing a lead role on projects in the insight and strategy field – from initial design through to execution

+ Comfortable at building strong client relationships, be that in the course of projects, or through business development

+ Content-oriented – strong writing skills and an enthusiasm for collaborating with designers, videographers and journalists as much as researchers and strategists

+ Strong APAC experience and cultural understanding

+ Excited by the idea of collaborating with our other offices

To discuss further, please get in touch with a CV (+ any other info, content, portfolio material or similar that you think we ought to see!).

Our next Rise breakfast event explores the mutant ways of Gen Z (think part millennial, part boomer)...

Date: May 9

Time: 8.15am-9am

Location: Crowd DNA, 5 Lux Building, 2-4 Hoxton Square, London, N1 6NU

Denoting those born between 1997 and 2012, Gen Z is a hot topic right now (whatever your view on cohort-based strategies). But what do we know about those who today are aged seven to 22-years-old? For starters, that they march to the beat of their own drum, at the same time as carrying a curious mix of traits from cohorts gone before them. It’s even been said that they could be the new boomers…

In this session, Crowd DNA director Elyse Pigram and associate director Berny McManus will get to grips with this hybrid generation, exploring what gets them up in the morning and where they’re going next. We’ll look at how they’re the first children born with the internet already in existence, and have been exposed to financial and political instability throughout their lives.

We’ll unpick how sometimes their values align with boomers (think approaches to money), while, simultaneously, their behaviours are an escalation of millennial entrepreneurialism (social media is their marketplace). And then, crucially, we’ll assess what this all means for our clients’ future strategies in the lifestages Gen Z are yet to face – from parenthood to home ownership and beyond…

For coffees, croissants and next-gen insights, please fill out this form or contact rise@crowdDNA.com for an invite. And feel free to pass this invite on to any colleagues who want to get Z-ready, too.

We're seeking someone for our NYC office who's keen to work at the intersection of brands and culture...

We’re excited to be growing our New York office, bringing on more clients and new briefs. This means we need new recruits, too. Specifically, an associate director to join our team based on Grand Street, in SoHo.

Reporting to our US director, you’ll get to work on hugely motivating projects for brands such as Spotify, Vans and Viacom. You will also support with business development, responding to briefs, designing projects, briefing in new commissions to the project teams and maintaining a strategic overview on live work. You’ll be an important part of a super smart and hugely creative global business, keen to forge new ways of working in the cultural insights and strategy field.

Here’s what we’re looking for:

– You will need the confidence and necessary experience to take the controls of complex multi-market projects

– And to do so in a way that gets the best out of the wider project team, ensuring we are diligent and creative in equal measure

– Yes, you’re insightful and culturally aware, but you have a commercial brain, too; if you can show previous experience in something business development-related, that’s a plus

– An understanding of the type of brands and challenges that Crowd DNA gets involved with (look around this website if you need more of an idea) is important, as is evidence of how you’ve met business challenges in the past

– Showing you are capable of gaining the trust of senior clients is key

– We anticipate this role going to someone who relishes the fact that the world of research is fast changing, and that factors such as strategic thinking, stakeholder engagement, storytelling and cultural understanding are key to the future

We can promise a competitive salary and the opportunity to travel, working on future-facing projects in collaboration with an extremely gifted team. The associate director role will allow you to develop fast in a high energy business. To apply for this role, please get in touch with a copy of your resume and an example of written work.

Our first Rise event of 2019 kicked off with a myth-busting, how-to presentation on working with leading edge audiences. Get the inside track below…

You can download our Leading Edge report here.


At the end of February, Crowd DNA’s managing director Matilda Andersson and senior consultant Roberta Graham talked about how leading edge consumers can take insight projects into fresh spaces and new ways of thinking. Setting out by asking whether the leading edge can help predict what’s next (spoiler: yes it can), Matilda began answering by tackling the common fears and misconceptions associated with this methodology.

She quickly established that these participants are not only the cool kids, hipsters and early tech adopters, but instead display a core set of attitudes (self belief, optimism, openness, collaboration, network-orientated, critical thinking) and behaviours (consultative, creativity, curiosity, go-getting, persistence). Matilda also emphasised that it’s these behaviours that set them apart from the mainstream – rather than cosmetic factors like their job or their sense of style.

So, how do you find leading edgers if you’re looking for these (sometimes hard-to-spot) behaviours? Matilda highlighted that the concept of leading edge is relative to the brief and the category, and that’s where you can get specific about what you want and need. Roberta then explained how less conventional recruitment methods can help clients get to the best people that fit those criteria. Street casting, Instagram ads and hashtag analysis can all offer effective routes to cultural gatekeepers, ready to give new and interesting perspectives. Leading edge methodology is all about the power of the (right) one, able to speak on behalf of many.

But, the most important thing to remember when working with leading edgers is collaboration. These consumers are people genuinely interested in shaping culture – talking to them as participants rather than respondents can lead to massively insightful concepts. Co-creating, giving them ownership and immersing yourself in their lives and their views lets you get inside their world. It might even answer questions you didn’t know you had. It’s also important to look for weak signals, from which you can build strong signs and forecasts by rooting those signals in wider culture – leading edgers often offer up more abstract ideas that can lead to bigger thinking. Roberta explained that adding a semiotic lens in this way means that you can question where leading edge behaviours sit within current cultural trajectories, defining which may have longevity and which behaviours are unlikely to make it to the mainstream.

Lastly, Matilda pointed out that even when leading edge behaviour doesn’t make it to the mainstream, it can still give us valuable clues – we just have to look beyond the obvious. Leading edge strategies can appeal to a mainstream mass market in an aspirational sense – people want to buy into brands that are relevant and ahead of the curve.

Matilda and Roberta left us with three key takeouts for using the leading edge effectively:

– Ask yourself whether the behaviour is rooted to current human tensions or needs to assess whether it will enter the mainstream

– Establish whether you want to focus on identifying fast culture (ie fads) or slow culture rooted in our values and societal codes (rituals). Then ladder these behaviours back to what’s happening in a wider context to spot bigger shifts on the horizon

– Decide whether you’re looking at global futures or local realities. Not all ideas flow in the same direction, some trickle out across geographical borders, but others don’t – and this will affect who you talk to, and how you translate your findings into strategies

 

The Girl Scout cookie phenomenon - it's got positivity, simplicity; oh yes, and Supreme-like drops. Crowd DNA New York’s Hollie Jones checks out a business model which brands can learn contemporary lessons from...

As an English (wo)man in New York, though admittedly for almost a decade, I’ve enjoyed a long time fascination with the Girl Scout cookie phenomenon. For those not familiar, in 1917, Girl Scouts in Muskogee, Oklahoma, began fundraising for their troop by selling homemade cookies in a school cafeteria. Girl Scout troops around the country continued the tradition, and they rose in popularity until commercial bakers started making cookies for the Girl Scouts to sell. More than 100 years later, Girl Scouts are still going door-to-door, selling cookies as part of a thriving business, raising roughly 800 million dollars a year (and topping the sales of Oreos).   

Tis once again the season, and this year it has been difficult to avoid the hype. My social media apps have been filled with friends desperately seeking ‘the plug.’ Those lucky enough to have an in with a Girl Scout troop proudly display their cookie bounties on their stories and thus demonstrate their social superiority. Our co-working space neighbors put their much-coveted cookie prizes on display in their glass window– in full vision where they remained until decimated; their cookies a prize too good to be shared.

Just in case you wanted to look at some more cookies...
Just in case you wanted to look at some more cookies...

But how did we get here? Like any enthusiastic cultural strategist, I leaned on trusty pop culture sources – looking to film, television and literature to establish my world view on scouting in the US. My takeaway? A perception of scouting that is hardly complimentary. Pop culture taught me that scouting comes with a stigma. It is a social pariah, demonstrated best by the gawky, immature Boy Scout and the mean, manipulative Girl Scout that are both common tropes in film, television and literature.

Take Russell of Disney/Pixar’s Up – an overweight boy never seen without his Wilderness Explorer uniform and merit badges. There’s Sam Shakusky, the protagonist of Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom – a bed wetting outcast with an obsession for the outdoors. Nickelodeon’s The Mighty B presents Bessie – an ambitious (read-obsessed) Girl Scout never seen without her uniform and Penny, her clumsy, obese and taffy-obsessed best friend. Even Ross from Friends falls victim to a manipulative Girl Scout, who beats him in a cookie selling contest by giving her uniform to her much older sister.

In spite of this reputation, Girl Scout cookies are a pop culture phenomenon and a marker of social prestige. The cookies are the subject of memes, they have a hashtag on Twitter, they made an infamous appearance at the 2016 Academy Awards Ceremony and Jennifer Garner took to Instagram to advertise her own plug. Even Cardi B is in on it, retweeting Girl Scout Kiki’s remix of her single ‘Money’ to almost five million followers.

What can we learn from the success of the Girl Scout cookie? And what lessons can other brands, struggling, or looking to overcome a dowdy reputation, leverage to find a route to recovery?

MIRRORING HYPE MODELS

In many ways, the Girl Scout cookie trade mirrors the model upon which many hype brands place their success. Particularly in the New York City area, where Girl Scout cookie stands are nowhere to be seen, the model emulates the ‘drop’, where scarcity and social media hype supercharge the traditional supply and demand model. Getting your hands on a box of Samoas is almost as exciting as being first in line for the latest Supreme drop. And just like hype brands, this new model fuels a lucrative resale market. When seeking out our very own Girl Scout cookies (for research purposes, obviously) we found budding entrepreneurs selling boxes on eBay for more than double the price.

SIMPLICITY

Beyond hype culture, Girl Scout cookies appeal to much broader consumer values. In a market where consumers are often faced with a paradox of choice when it comes to products, and are overwhelmed by technology and being always on, simplicity is always valued. Links to scout culture represent simplicity, release, and a flashback to times that were simple. The packaging is uncomplicated, and ultimately, they are just cookies – humble and nostalgic, reminding many of childhood, pure and simple.

POSITIVE AMERICANA

In a tense political time, where the idea of being ‘American’ is used by competing political sides as both a badge of honor and an insult, scouting has unquestionably positive links to America and American culture. The Girl Scout cookie is beloved, an American treasure with integrity that cannot be challenged.

SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY

Social responsibility and championing women are non-negotiable for today’s consumer. As well as being a female-led organisation, Girl Scout values are focused on doing good and driving change. The purchase of Girl Scout cookies are a mode by which consumers can express civic mindfulness, supporting entrepreneurialism, worthy causes and female empowerment with each purchase.

A staple of American pop culture, and sold for over 100 years, it’s perhaps surprising how well Girl Scout cookies fit into the modern, hype-driven model of brands and products. We think it serves as a lesson – that you don’t have to be in fashion or tech to be culturally relevant.