How To Speak TikTok

July 22 - more webinar action from Crowd DNA. This time, we're digging into the TikTok phenomenon, including the opportunities offered to brands...

  • Session 1: July 22, 08.30 (BST)/17.30 (AEST) – sign up here
  • Session 2: July 22, 16.00 (BST)/11.00 (EDT) – sign up here

(Access via Zoom; 45 mins including Q&A)

TikTok seemingly came out of nowhere in the West in 2018. Despite many dismissing it as unlikely to gain traction, an ever-growing audience have soundly disagreed, with the platform spawning an infinite array of trends and cultural crossovers – while rocketing to a reported 800 million monthly active users.

It’s now impossible for brands to ignore TikTok and its dancing, singing, laughing legions of users – and TikTok is actively courting brands, too (with Chipotle, NBA, Washington Post and Crocs among the many to jump on board).

In these two sessions, led by Crowd DNA senior consultant Chris Illsley, we’ll be exploring all you need to know about TikTok – from its origins in China, to how it carved out a space for itself in the West; why it has gained so much traction during Covid-19 and, importantly, how brands can successfully leverage TikTok for marketing strategy.

To help brands ‘TikTok’ to the best of their abilities, we’ll consider:

– Where has TikTok come from and what is really driving its popularity?

– How does the platform actually work and what makes it different from other social media competitors?

– What are the TikTok rules of engagement for brands?

– What should great branded TikTok content look like?

Late breaking news: If turning up wasn’t essential enough already, we’re excited to confirm that Sherice Banton will be with us to discuss life on the platform and where things go from here.

Sherice has over 1.6m followers (and counting) and is considered one of the most popular TikTok creators in the UK. She’s also worked with brands such as Adobe, Warner Brothers and Burger King.

We hope you can make it. Bring your best dance moves.

  • Session 1: July 22, 08.30 (BST)/17.30 (AEST) – sign up here
  • Session 2: July 22, 16.00 (BST)/11.00 (EDT) – sign up here

(Access via Zoom; 45 mins including Q&A)

Remote Film Formats

Six approaches for leveraging the best from UGC video content...

Working with user generated content has always been prominent among the method mix at Crowd DNA. Recent times, inevitably, have seen even more focus on remote film techniques, making sure we adapt and innovate to meet client objectives.

Here’s a run-through of six remote film methods that have been getting us up-close (from a distance) to needs and tensions recently, helping stakeholders to empathise with people and culture.

(With thanks to some of the Crowd team for featuring in these mockups!)

In-Home Futures

We used the future of the home as a case study in our recent scenario planning webinar. It's a fascinating topic - here's a deeper dive on the scenarios we developed...

Our recent webinar on culturally charged scenario planning saw us explaining and exploring how we use this technique to reach powerful outcomes for our clients – around objectives such as product and experience development, brand positioning, comms activation, new market entries, investments and partnerships strategy.

We used the future of the home as a case study. Why? For good reason as, post-pandemic, we can expect a long term shift in the in-home experience. Either because we’re still scared. Or we’ve decided to move to the suburbs. Or, as a society, we’ve realised the social inequality of renting. Or we’ve just decided to carry on making the most of in-home entertainment and exercise rituals that we formed in lockdown.

These potential transformations will have implications for all categories that are consumed, and occasions that take place, at home: finance, food, drink, sleep, beauty, entertainment, retail, fitness and more. But how to make sense of these numerous and diverse shifts? 

Critical uncertainties

As part of our culturally charged scenario planning workstream, after sifting through hundreds of future signs, we narrowed down to two critical uncertainties pertinent to the in-home environment in the next three-to-five years (with some initial manifestations of change likely to surface earlier still):

When it comes to the future role of the home, will people prioritise:

1. freedom, creativity and release – or look for reassurance, stability and protection?

2. championing the personal and individual – or embracing collectivism and belonging?

Above is how the critical uncertainties look in a typical scenario planning chart, with each of the four scenarios we consequently shaped up named per quadrant. 

Next, we fleshed out these four scenarios. The results are both inspiring and slightly terrifying. Here goes…


Radical reinvention of public & private

In this scenario, we move from home ownership to community membership – subscribing to an area or suburb rather than a physical building. We no longer think of homes as assets or investments, and instead ownership becomes a right. After the Black Lives Matter movement of 2020, community support services are given more funding over the police force. City streets are pedestrianised and car parks are redesigned as community and resource distribution spaces. Smart homes use technology to ensure environmental efficiency – rather than productivity. 


Protecting my tribe and local area only

In this scenario, neighbourhoods have become city states in their own right. To prevent further pandemics, national-level visa systems and processes are replaced by hyper local policies and requirements if you wish to move between individual communities. We have adopted bartering systems in place of shopping for big and global brands. Homes are a space for us to work on our craft and grow or create items to trade. Community isolation calls drive value and uptake of heightened home privacy and security systems. Architecture will also follow more community-minded values, creating safe spaces for neighbours to meet in, while keeping the rest of the city at a distance.


Distance as a design paradigm

In this scenario, hyper hygienic tech solutions are as common in the house as ovens and microwaves. We’re minimising the use of the tactile – touch screens become obsolete in favour of voice and face controls. Delineated entry points for the home, as per Japanese genkans, to maximise cleanliness, become standard features. Antibacterial surface materials, such as cork and copper, are utilised throughout the home, and sanitising vapours are misted into the air at regular intervals via a smart timer to improve the cleanliness of indoor air.


Maximalist aesthetics and in-home indulgences

In this scenario, we have abandoned minimalist design aesthetics and returned to ‘more is more’ maximalism. Importance is placed on sensory delight, where we choose furniture, devices and decorations that provide us with major stimulation. AI facilitates cognitive engagement, enabling us to play, explore, discover, experiment and learn through new experiences like holograms and VR gaming. Tech and furniture collide to amp up this sense of high stimulation. The hospitality industry continues to build in-home products and services to meet with the heightened appetite for indoor creativity, play and hedonistic fun.

Scenarios such as these can be used as creative springboards for new product and brand innovation, as a starting point for your next campaign, or to simply decide what you’re going to stop doing to avoid becoming obsolete. It’s unlikely that all four potential futures apply to you and your brand, but using this technique is about prioritising – which scenarios provide the most opportunities or threats, and what are you going to do about it?

We work scenarios into project stimulus and to identify workshop opportunity areas. We use them to write new brand narratives, to run ideation sessions and help our clients develop fresh concepts.

If you want to know more about the future of the home or how to work with scenario planning for your category or brand, do get in touch.

(Illustrations by Chloe Swayne from Crowd DNA’s Socialise team)

Future-Proofing Quant

Our Crowd Numbers team are on a mission to revamp quantitative research. Download this PDF report to find out where they think things are heading...

Following their breakfast event way back pre-pandemic, our Crowd Numbers team have been building further on ideas for how to future-proof quantitative research; and to ensure it sits as a vital element in our method toolbox.

In this report, they’ve broken this down into three areas:

1. Transcending Demographics

2. Bringing In Culture

3. Telling Real Stories

Check out the full report to find out more: Crowd DNA, More Than A Number, June 2020

From celebrating Black voices to understanding regional conversation, this special installment of Crowd Tracks explores conversations of the Black Lives Matter movement...

Download the full copy of Black Lives Matter: Behind The Hashtag here.

Crowd Tracks is our social data dispatch, highlighting emerging trends using our Culture At Scale method. As people in all 50 US states, and around the globe, march together, demanding equality for Black people, this special issue spotlights conversation around the Black Lives Matter movement.

The full report features:

– BLM growth – mapping the trajectory of conversation around Black Lives Matter

– Viral stories from across the US organizing protests, battling voter suppression, holding brands accountable

– Buying Black – uncovering how through the exposure of the racially unequal practices of big brands, emerges a celebration of Black businesses

– The role of brands – examining how brands are participating in discussion and what effective brand allyship looks like

– Amplifying Black voices – exploring how the internet is celebrating and making space for Black voices

– Deep dives delving into how the movement is reviving community and shifting from cancel culture to accountability

Download the full copy of Black Lives Matter: Behind The Hashtag here.

Listening to and amplifying the voices of the Black Lives Matter movement
Listening to and amplifying the voices of the Black Lives Matter movement

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.

July 1 webinar: our Crowd Signs team explore what hope looks like in pandemic times - and how brands can point to more hopeful futures...

  • Session 1: July 1, 08.30 (BST)/17.30 (AEST)

Hosted by Crowd DNA London & Sydney | Presenters: Rachel Rapp (associate director, London), Dr Bridget Dalton (senior consultant, London), Erryn Balzan (associate director, Sydney)

Sign up here

  • Session 2: July 1, 16.00 (BST)/11.00 (EDT)

Hosted by Crowd DNA London & New York | Presenters: Rachel Rapp (associate director, London), Dr Bridget Dalton (senior consultant, London), Eden Lauffer (senior consultant, New York)

Sign up here

(Access via Zoom; 45 mins including Q&A)

Life BC (Before Covid) seems a million years ago, and people are adjusting, adapting and holding on tight. Through it all, despite the tragedy, hope springs eternal – but, beyond the rainbows in windows and garden laps for the NHS, what form does that hope take?

Join us as, focusing on five key shifts, we track the trajectory of hope using trends analysis and semiotics – some of the methods in our Crowd Signs toolkit. We’ll discuss the historical divisions of hope, how the pandemic-induced spirit of community is challenging polarisation, and whether hope has morphed from a universal quality to cultural value.

To help brands turn hope into action, we will consider: 

– What hopeful behaviours and terms are signalling new consumer trends?

– What are the semiotic cultural cues translating hope linguistically, visually, and more?

– How can brands speak to and activate against these swiftly changing codes?

– What can we learn from the brands who are speaking hope well already?

Session 1: July 1, 08.30 (BST)/17.30 (AEST) – Sign up here

Session 2: July 1, 16.00 (BST)/11.00 (EDT) – Sign up here

You can learn more about Crowd Signs (combining trends, semiotics, culture at scale and our KIN network) via this vid:




June 17 webinar - we're sharing fresh thinking and practical direction on how we apply scenario planning to strategy work...

  • Session 1: June 17, 08.30 (BST)/17.30 (AEST)

Hosted by Crowd DNA London & Sydney 

  • Session 2: June 17, 16.00 (BST)/11.00 (EDT)

Hosted by Crowd DNA London & New York 

If you’d like to ‘come along’ to either session, sign up here 

Head along to this webinar to learn about our culturally charged version of scenario planning, and how it guides our clients to exciting and credible results. These sessions will demonstrate the relevance of scenario planning to marketing and product teams – in areas ranging from brand and comms, to new market entries and innovation work.

Scenario planning is a tried and tested method for exploring credible alternative futures. It’s always a powerful approach, but we’re finding it particularly so as brands look to plan against the uncertainties of life post-pandemic. Pinning a strategy on one forecasted future seems a little unrealistic right now. Instead, scenario planning allows us to explore a range of credible futures, including getting beyond the limitations of the ’official future’.

And our approach to scenario planning dials up the cultural perspective, building on Crowd DNA’s firmly held POV that this is the way to commercial advantage. This session (accessed via Zoom; 45 mins including Q&A) will cover:

– General principles on future forecasting

– Why scenario planning encourages brave thinking without sacrificing focus

– What culturally charging the scenario planning process looks like

– Introducing our approach and how we use it

– Our approach in practice (using the role of the home – something we’ve all become highly acquainted with in recent months – and how it may change as our example)

– Summary and take-outs for successfully using culturally charged scenario planning in your business


London & Sydney session: Dr Matilda Andersson & Elyse Pigram

Dr Matilda Andersson: Crowd DNA London and Amsterdam managing director, Matilda is a foresight expert who has mapped out scenarios for clients in retail, FMCG, tech and alcohol categories. Before joining Crowd DNA, she managed future forecasting for BBC Studio’s science, history and documentary slate, populating the production pipeline with scenarios five years in advance. 

Elyse Pigram: Director of Crowd DNA Sydney, Elyse has been helping clients across category and markets navigate new terrain for almost a decade. From new market launches to capturing the zeitgeist of shifting consumer communities, her experience mapping futures and pinpointing strategic opportunities is extensive.

London & New York session: Dr Matilda Andersson & Hollie Jones

Hollie Jones: Director of Crowd DNA New York, Hollie has over a decade of qualitative research experience. She has supported clients across categories including automotive, hospitality, beauty and technology in tapping global and local culture to identify opportunities, build strategies and plan for the future.

If you’d like to ‘come along’ to either session, sign up here 




We're back with a second offering of ideas from our KIN network of creators and connectors, as we start to formulate creative springboards for life after the lockdown...

With so much of the world still in lockdown, there is a shortage of reliable data out there for longterm strategic decision-making post-pandemic. But you’ve got to start somewhere. For us, that somewhere includes checking in on the perspectives of KIN – Crowd DNA’s proprietary global network of creators and connectors.

KIN provides us, and our clients, with access to people who are at the leading edge of their cultural space, their commercial endeavour or their community. This means we can not only look ahead, but also understand local, on-the-ground change as it happens. 

From families to work to experiences – with so much in flux, it’s a significant time for brands to consider what they should continue with, and what they should change. Here are some provocations from our KIN network to use as points of inspiration in brainstorms, scenario planning sessions, or whenever else you need a quick shot of creativity.

Rebekah Abdeen: creative director, fitness trainer (Zurich)

Rebekah is a sports expert involved in the subcultures that spring up within and alongside the category, such as the fitness/music scene. She’s based in Zürich, where she’s creative director and head trainer at Open Ride, a boutique gym. We caught up with her about self-care and whether virtual workouts will live on post-Covid-19.

Fitness brands need to think beyond the live Covid-19 workout 

“Live streaming of fitness content is a very overloaded space: there’s an abundance of workouts with nothing beyond a trainer in front of a camera, performing another workout to the masses. It’s a short term fix that won’t change how we exercise. Daybreaker is doing well in a virtual world by spreading vibes and good energy, rather than joining the overload of live content. We’ve also avoided it at Open Ride. We’re posting humour, music, insights and promoting our team as humans going through the same struggles.”

Covid-19 has cemented self-care as part of fitness

“There’s now major traffic for our self-care products, such as vegan protein powder. People seem to be digging into more self-care practises and the fitness industry needs to continue driving that energy, but with a focus on quality over quantity – we shouldn’t be encouraging manic consumption. Coming out of the pandemic, campaigns around elevated consciousness will be what’s most needed.”

Music culture remains strong

“When music venues were forced to close, the bookers, producers and studios were the ones to step in. Usually tucked away behind the booth, or locked away in studios, they’re now driving the entire nightlife scene, breaking into a cultural void and supporting the next generation of talent. Ozelot Studios in Zürich set up a community stream within three hours of the closures. They’re injecting new life into a space in danger of falling apart. They also streamed from the Open Ride studio and I was happy to further facilitate the cross-over between fitness and true music culture.”

Julius Kensan: editor in chief of lifestyle and culture magazine, Manual (Jakarta)

As Jakarta has switched from buzzing nightlife and art scene to a slumbering city, the content of Manual has had to change as well. Here Julius reflects on how the crisis is shifting the values of the hospitality businesses, but also how impending economic challenges will impact what we value, buy and wear.

A chance to build deeper relationships  

“With the city in lockdown, bars and restaurants are closed, and some will never return. It will be the businesses that are able to maintain a deep relationship with their customers remotely during the lockdown that are more likely to survive post the pandemic. Most hospitality brands had apps pre-crisis, but now those with a strategy are developing their functionality and building loyalty. The apps will carry on being an essential part of the relationship between brands and customers from now on.”

We’ll care more about fewer material possessions 

The economic downturn means people will be able to buy less, but when they do spend money, they’ll care more about the quality and the unique story of that item – whether it’s fashion, tech or other luxury items. The few material things we’re willing to invest in will need to really prove they’re worthwhile; something their user can feel passionate about and cherish.”

Slow and sustainable fashion 

“The fashion industry, in particular, will see a big change. Fast fashion will disappear and people will want to buy clothes that last. The trend where brands go to remote villages in Indonesia and train the people who live there how to make clothes and bags in a sustainable way will carry on after the crisis. The slow fashion trend fits with a more mindful mindset, with more focus on the relationship between a healthy planet and a healthy body and mind. Fashion will be more expensive, but consumers will buy less – but with more meaning.”

Hector Pitt: videographer, parkour athlete (London)

Hector is a parkour athlete and videographer, with a strong connection to the UK urban music scene. Aside from the inevitable postponement of many shoots, he’s still been able to focus on some areas of production. He told us how Covid-19 is changing the way he works and the knock-on effects seen on social media.

Captive audiences

“I’ve noticed there’s been a lot more music video releases, albums and new content; an increase in volume, basically. Brands are getting really good engagement with their fans as a result of these times.”

Efficiency is important, even when there’s more time

Shooting a video requires contact and can’t be done remotely, but networking, pre-production and post-production are all still possible. Currently, my process involves loads of emails, file transferring, WhatsApp, editing programmes… there’s definitely a gap for a platform that integrates all these existing softwares together. It would speed things up, giving me more time to work on other things.”

An endless stream of… streaming 

“Everyone is at home right now using social media more than ever. As bad as the situation is, there’s never been a better time to run a social campaign or drop a new release – but only if your product is something that can be streamed. People aren’t as able to buy non-essential goods, but there’s no restrictions on streaming.”

JD Shadel: writer, strategist, LGBTQ+ activist (Portland)

A writer, strategist, multimedia journalist and lo-fi producer based in Portland, Oregon, JD Shadel’s work mainly focuses on culture, travel and technology. We spoke about how to go beyond one-way streaming, why mundane games are the best form of lockdown escape and what type of travel will be popular post the quarantine.

Blending video calls and VR 

“Several months into lockdown and the novelty of Zoom happy hours is wearing off. As we settle into the realities of pre-vaccine pandemic life, forward-thinking brands will find ways of innovating beyond the one-way live stream. They’ll move toward more interactive experiences, which incorporate a strong social component – by blending video calls and virtual reality. Online Town is an early example of this move toward more immersive chats.”

Socially enabled games – a happier version of social media  

“We’ve already seen the gaming industry grow in the early phases of the pandemic. Socially enabled games like Animal Crossing, which takes the Sims experience to another level, will do particularly well. These games allow people to curate their own alternative and much happier version of social media.” 

Return of the road trip

“International travel won’t be fun for a long time. Until there’s a widely distributed vaccine, restrictions on travel, mandatory quarantines and intrusive movement-tracking initiatives will likely deter travelers from taking big trips abroad. While young Americans have traveled internationally at unprecedented levels in recent years, 2020s will be all about the road trip. Watch for a surge in the ’50s California aesthetic, roadside attractions and close-to-home getaways.”

From 28 markets and counting – across the Americas, Europe, Asia, Africa and Australia – we work with our KIN network of leading edge collaborators to help brands stay at the forefront of culture.

Briefs they work on range from trends exploration to brand strategy and product and experience innovation. Since Covid-19, we’ve collaborated with them on identifying cultural signals that will impact on categories, pinpointing innovation opportunities and modifying brand comms to meet with new audience expectations. 

To find out more about how to work with KIN, do get in touch