Safety First

Brands need to pay attention to our perception of safety like never before. Crowd DNA’s group managing director, Dr Matilda Andersson, offers five new safety cues to consider as society opens up...

A sense of safety is one of the most fundamental needs for human survival and wellbeing. The feelings associated with being safe have had many manifestations in the past, but never have they been so complex, confusing and important for brands to acknowledge. As society opens up (albeit at different rates around the world), hygiene, health and protection will be firmly front and center of people’s minds. 

We used to take the feeling of being safe for granted in the Western world, but certainly not anymore. People are now searching for it, their decisions strongly driven by it. With the web of safety cues already embedded in design, language, experience and behaviour, it’s necessary for brands to understand these changing cultural codes and how to create a sense of safety for their customers, employees and wider public. Every channel is up for grabs and no brand is exempt. Leaders need to recognise that perceptions of safety happen subconsciously, meaning that tiny nuances in design or behaviour can make or break a brand. Here are five cues of safety to consider as society opens up.

Safety is consensual 

Safe and healthy relationships, whether personal or transactional, are all about consent. They’re about how to interact and use our bodies, what information to share and what to hold back. Covid, in many ways, has also been about consent: negotiating how close to get, when and where to wear face masks, even giving someone a hug now requires an extra layer of consensual decision making.

It’s important for brands to communicate with transparency and without pressure so that consumers feel in control and able to consent at all stages (from signing up to newsletters, to navigating staff at IRL checkouts). Gen Z, who have always championed safe spaces and consensual interaction, are leading the way and have the opportunity to educate older generations on consent. 

Safety is local, empathetic brands 

Small and local outlets are seen to care much more about their consumers than big, global brands. Over the past year, constant changes to restrictions have meant that local stores the world over have become well versed in adapting to shifting safety requirements. There’s a general perception that big businesses think profit before people, so smaller outlets can often ‘feel’ safer as they have the flexibility to adjust to new standards.

In London, for example, boutique retailer Glassworks upgraded their personal shopping offer to include ‘lock-ins’, where the entire shop is closed for a more personal (and safe) experience. This is another reason why local brands are winning out. Safety is dependent on being empathetic; genuinely listening to consumers’ fears, and quickly modifying the environment to make them feel safe at every turn. 

Safety is being equal and part of a network 

Safety can’t discriminate. Brands who leave people behind, ignore calls for diversity and inclusion, or fail to keep their workers safe need to be held to account. It’s not an option to protect only some; everyone needs to be included in order for individuals to feel safe. For example, despite the fact that Covid disproportionately affected marginalised communities around the world, entire populations have felt shaken. It’s about creating a sense of networked safety for everyone (including the environment).

This can also be seen in brand responses to the BLM movement. Promoting and uplifting Black-owned businesses (often side-lined in white, big brand-dominated industries) is one way forward. Beauty icon Glossier set aside $500,000 in the form of grants to be distributed to Black-owned beauty businesses, and delayed the launch of their latest product ‘in an effort to focus attention, and that of their audience, on the ongoing fight against racial injustice.’ It’s important to remember that brands are also part of a wider network. 

Safety is the ultimate luxury

Constantly being vigilant about safety is exhausting. Taking a break and indulging in a care-free moment is the ultimate pleasure nowadays – yet, without safety, we can’t have this kind of experience. To truly sit back and relax, everything needs to be safe. This includes safety from infection, but also from physical and psychological harm, bullying, racism, misogyny, and all other forms of harassment. This doesn’t mean that brands need to hunker down and promote a secluded form of protection to be considered premium. It’s about looking after your consumers in a holistic way – their body, mind and emotions – to signal that everyone is safe, but included, and everything is in hand behind the scenes.   

Safety welcomes a new design standard 

The last year has placed a spotlight on how reliant we are on nature for our safety and wellbeing. We’ve seen many examples of design changes because of previous pandemics (the introduction of private chambers after the Black Death; urban parks and water sanitation after cholera outbreaks). This time round, the interaction between outdoor and indoor is the most important for brands to acknowledge – bringing the outside inside, or vice versa, and celebrating the great outdoors as part of overall consumer wellbeing.

This could be literal space that adjusts to the needs of people in the moment, or longer-term air purification devices that are installed in public spaces, such as shopping centres. But designing for safety doesn’t have to mean rigidity and sheets of wipeable plastic; brands should experiment with materials that are both aesthetically pleasing and naturally hygienic, such as wood and copper, too. 

This post is based on conversation from Matilda’s appearance in the Style Psychology Human Discussions podcast

If you’d like to discuss the changing cues of safety and what they could mean for your brand, please get in touch: hello@crowdDNA.com

Help shape the next stage of Crowd DNA's growth with this exciting opportunity to join our London team as one of our strategic insights directors ...

We’re seeking someone skilled and passionate about cultural insight and strategy work to join our team as a director. You’ll get to lead consistently exciting, global briefs for clients across categories such as media, alcohol, fashion and finance; where the emphasis is on immersive methods and getting to powerful outputs; and where the challenges set to us are never short of fascinating and future-facing.

You will get to play a key role in how we grow the business – both in London and globally – and in developing our fantastic team. Here’s what we’re looking for:

– We imagine you’ll have six+ years of experience in an insight environment – we are open to candidates currently in director roles, or those seeking to take the step up from associate director (or similar)

– Someone with the confidence to run one of our two strategic insights workstreams at Crowd DNA – generating business, designing/directing projects, and building category excellence

– Equipped to gain the absolute trust of our amazing clients, and to meet their expectations on exciting but often intellectually challenging projects

– Line managing a highly motivated team of researchers and strategists on the projects in your workstream – as well as more broadly, having the 360˚ view required to oversee work that often combines qualitative and quantitative methods, semiotics, trends, design and videography

– A strong ability to fuse cultural insight to sound strategic thinking; also to take the global view, with our briefs frequently covering multiple markets

– Similarly, to fuse cultural insight with the type of content outputs that have always been core to Crowd DNA (film, digital, print, events etc)

– And to contribute as a senior voice in the business, adding to thought leadership and, as part of the directorial team, to developing our perspective and position.


The role comes with a competitive salary (£62,000-70,000), clear paths to promotion and to new opportunities, as well as great benefits (bonus and pension schemes, generous parental leave policy, flexi hours/wfh, betterment scheme, training, paid sabbatical after five years, company lunches, days out, 30 days ‘work from anywhere’ scheme each year etc).

If you fancy working in a place where setting the agenda for the future of cultural insights and strategy is coded into the way of working, please get in touch with Laura Warby, providing a covering letter and CV in the first instance.

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

Project Producer – project management skills 

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 a competitive salary (£28,000-36,000), clear paths to promotion and to new opportunities, as well as great benefits (bonus and pension schemes, generous parental leave policy, flexi hours/wfh, betterment scheme, training, paid sabbatical after five years, company lunches, days out, 30 days ‘work from anywhere’ scheme each year etc).

To apply (attaching a CV and covering letter), please get in touch with Dr Matilda Andersson.

We're seeking a consultant/senior consultant to join our strategic insights team. Exciting work for amazing brands guaranteed...

This position is for someone who has a solid grounding in strategic insights work, probably gained at exec or consultant/SRE level, and is now ready to take on a bigger role. And at Crowd DNA, that means on consistently exciting, global briefs for clients across categories such as media, alcohol, fashion and finance; and where the emphasis is on immersive methods and getting to powerful strategic outputs.

The work leans heavily on bringing a truly cultural perspective into play – naturally, we expect this to be very much your thing.

In more detail, here’s what we’re after (level of experience dependent on if applying at consultant or senior consultant level):

– We imagine you’ll have around two to five years experience in an insight environment

– Demonstrable track record across areas such as project design and management, conducting mixed methods, guide writing, online and offline moderation and analysis/debriefing

– A tangible enthusiasm for presenting work, running workshops (virtual or otherwise) and for reaching bold conclusions that combine creativity and good commercial sense for our clients

– First-rate writing skills (we expect you to be contributing to our blog and producing reports)

– Proof of experience at integrating trends into your work (potentially quant, semiotics and other disciplines also)

– Our work generally involves multiple markets – we’re looking for someone who relishes the opportunity to develop narratives and strategies that have global relevance


The role comes with a salary of £28,000-36,000 (consultant)/£36,000-£47,000 (senior consultant) and great benefits (betterment scheme, training, sabbatical, company lunches, days out, flexi hours/wfh, 30 days work from anywhere scheme etc) and the opportunity to progress in an exciting and progressive business. To apply (attaching a CV and covering letter), please get in touch with Berny McManus.

Join Our Culture Club

We love the work we do and we're pretty lucky to get to do it. If cultural insights and strategy interests you too, applying for an internship at Crowd DNA London is a great way to get started. Culture Club kicks off again now...

UPDATE: we’ve now closed applications for this phase of Culture Club, but we’ll be back looking for more candidates later in 2021!


Internships have always been good at Crowd DNA, but they just got better. Culture Club is a carefully designed four month programme that brings more rigour and quality to what we can offer those seeking experience in insight and strategy work.

Shaped from observations, conversations and an ambition to truly meet with contemporary needs, Culture Club comes in four stages:

Culture Relevance: immersion in Crowd DNA’s training modules on what we mean by culture, how it manifests and why it matters to brands

How We Work With Culture: exploring the methods and frameworks that we use at Crowd DNA to get close to culture and then to derive strategic meaning from it

Practical Application: theory’s all good, but you learn so much from getting involved; at Culture Club you’ll get to work (in a meaningful fashion) on a number of projects, and at various point along the timeline

Culture Wrap: we don’t just wave you away with a thank you card. Concluding the programme, there’s a coaching session with a senior member of the Crowd DNA team, including recommendations on next steps, what to learn more about etc. We want you to leave us primed and excited for what’s next.

In fact, we don’t necessarily want you to leave us. We offer permanent roles to circa 25% of those who come on board for an internship at Crowd DNA. And even when we’re not able to offer this, the vast majority of those who spend time with us end up some place very exciting, in fields such as insight, advertising, media and beyond.

No intern is left just making coffee at Crowd DNA. We encourage cultural curiosity and the opportunity to experience myriad aspects of our work. Importantly, we also hope to imprint on those who join us the importance of adaptability (one of our values is Everything Is Changing, after all) in the future workplace.

Our internships pay London Living Wage and we’re committed to offering an inclusive and exciting place to work.

How To Apply…

We’re not asking for CVs and we absolutely do not require you to come to Culture Club armed with a degree (though they’re of course good, too!), nor to be the loudest person in the room. But we do expect to see evidence that, in your own way, you have an active interest in culture and brands, and where they intersect (we can teach you the insight and strategy bits).


Here’s some feedback from some of our former Culture Club recruits

“On my first day of Culture Club, I was out on the streets interviewing young athletes. It’s a real crash course in the world of insight and strategy, and Crowd is the sort of place where you can put your hand up for anything and get involved. As someone who had a real interest in culture, but no idea of what sort of career that could give me, Culture Club was a great launchpad – and I’m still here 14 months later!”

“I discovered Crowd when I was studying for my masters. I wanted a career change after working in education management and I thought that insight would be ideal for me. I like meeting new people, exploring ideas and being creative. But to get into a new industry, I knew I would need experience (both for my CV and for myself), so I thought an internship was a good way to go. On my first day at the Hoxton Square office, everyone was friendly, open and super smart. I got stuck in and started working with some huge brands from the get-go. In my first month, I worked on an online community, conducted interviews and even went on fieldwork. I was completely trusted, and that’s what I liked about the internship: I wasn’t treated like an intern at all. I was part of the team. Now that I’m a consultant, I take a lead role on projects for major clients, receive regular training and feel supported in all areas of my progression. Interning at Crowd was a great choice for me at a crucial turning point in my career.”

“I wasn’t made to feel like an intern at all during my internship at Crowd, I felt a lot of trust from the other team members and got stuck into lots of different tasks from day one. Everyone is really nice and supportive and there’s a great team spirit.”

“Interning at Crowd was a really fun and rewarding experience. Over the course of the internship, I was able to try out loads of different skills, from vox pops to qualitative and quantitative analysis. I gained hands-on experience of the different research methods and how they inform cultural strategy. After my internship, I moved into the Crowd Numbers team as an executive.”

We have a consultant/senior consultant level opening in our London Crowd Signs team...

Crowd Signs is the name we give to our smart and adaptive team dedicated to future forecasting, and to providing solid strategic recommendation based on that forecasting. Among other disciplines (such as semiotics and working with social/unstructured data), identifying, articulating and drawing meaning from trends is a big focus in Crowd Signs.

As such, and as we look to grow our Crowd Signs team in 2021, we have an opening for a trends consultant or senior trends consultant to join us. We can offer the chance to work on genuinely thought provoking briefs for many of the most exciting brands in the world, taking in macro themes such as health, work, home, the family, relationships, diversity and identity; and a whole host of more specific themes impacting on clients across categories like tech, alcohol, media, apparel and finance. What we’re looking for:

– Tangible experience of working with trends – from analysis and identification to putting into category context – and of creating and using trends frameworks. Degree of experience required will vary at consultant or senior consultant level

–  Comfortable at leveraging trends to provide strategic consultancy and deliver commercial advantage

–  Confident at presenting trends in workshop environments, including facilitating debate with client stakeholders

–  Next to debrief decks, also confident in creating content from trends, editorial in particular

– Ideally with experience of interviewing and collaborating with experts

– And some level of experience of fusing trends or finding trends from data sources – such as social and unstructured

The role comes with a competitive salary (£34,000-£47,000, dependent on if at consultant or senior consultant level), great benefits, the chance to work on some of the most stimulating and culturally-driven projects out there; and the opportunity to progress and make a real difference in an exciting and progressive business. To apply (attaching a CV and covering letter), please get in touch with Rachel Rapp / r.rapp@crowdDNA.com.

 

Join Crowd DNA Amsterdam’s Luzie Richt and London’s Dr Jennifer Simon for our latest webinar in Amsterdam, as we look at the changing articulations of womanhood and how brands can respond...


April 22, 15:00-15:45 CET – sign up

(Access via Demio; 45 minutes, followed by Q&A)


We’re very excited to confirm our latest webinar in Amsterdam, in which we’ll explore how women are represented in culture and how brands can engage with a more future-facing portrayal through gender literacy.

With 80 percent of Gen Z women identifying as feminist, but around half of young men claiming that feminism has ‘gone too far’, there’s plenty to discuss. This webinar will join the conversation by exploring the female story – from current representations within the themes of family, relationships and self expression; to examining how narratives are being disrupted and reimagined by culturally relevant brands.   

Presented by Crowd DNA Amsterdam’s Luzie Richt and London’s Dr Jennifer Simon, this session will consider:

– The dominant representation of ‘womanhood’ in three key areas – sex and relationships, family and self expression

– What the new, emergent codes are, and how semiotics can help unpack them

– How brands can take inspiration from the multitude of ways women live their lives

– What all this means for brands looking to future proof and remain culturally relevant to their audience

– How to keep up as more expressions of identity evolve and scripts of gender are rewritten.

We hope you can make it!


April 22, 15:00-15:45 CET – sign up

(Access via Demio; 45 minutes, followed by Q&A)


They say absence makes the heart grow fonder, but a lack of human connection has forced us to completely rethink our love lives. Our new edition of Crowd Tracks opens up...

The fifth edition of Crowd Tracks is now live and available to download here. Crowd Tracks is our regular exploration of unstructured social data, uncovering emerging trends using our Culture At Scale method. This time round, we’re covering the fascinating world of sex and relationships, analysing relevant conversation and interactions over the last four months.

After a year quite unlike any other, the way we discuss and approach dating, sex and relationships is in flux. Following a Covid-staggered start of ‘can we, can’t we?’, many of us have succumbed to yet another lockdown of minimal romancing. While dating culture has stalled and the novelty of Zoom dates has fizzled out, people have been experimenting with new ways to find fulfilment. Whether that’s looking inward and practicing self care or navigating the burgeoning worlds of sex tech and science, pleasure will always prevail. 

The full report features:

Viral stories from around the world – from Jojo Siwa’s announcement on TikTok, to a new, openly-gay Indian podcast and the Japanese government’s investment in AI matchmaking

A language tracker highlighting the shifting discourse and tone when it comes to love, relationships and online dating culture

– An Instagram-based image analysis unpacking over 450,000 images relating to romance, revealing the most popular backdrops and colour choices

– A closer look at Lora DiCarlo – the brand on a mission to destigmatize sex tech with help from Cara Delevingne, with discussion around the pitfalls of inclusivity in this area

Trends analysis of the increasing presence of data and science in our bedrooms, as well as the rise of singledom as an act of self care.

Download the full copy of Crowd Tracks: Sex & Relationships here.

Culture At Scale at Crowd DNA

At Crowd DNA, we’re constantly tracking conversations online across a range of categories. We deploy social media and other unstructured data sources in a number of ways; either as a stand-alone method (including producing one-off and periodical reports for our clients) or integrated alongside semiotic, ethnographic and quantitative approaches. If you’d like to find out more about how we can use Culture At Scale to meet your business challenges, get in touch.