We’re really pleased to see our work for Viacom out in the public domain – with a first showing at the recent ESOMAR event in New Orleans...

We were given the very exciting mission of capturing new stories and insights from the sometimes-overlooked Generation X in eight cities – London, Rio, Budapest, Bangkok, Cape Town, Berlin, Mexico City and Bogota.

Building on a survey of over 12,000 adults carried out by research agency Tapestry Research, we used some great methodologies, including image gathering tasks on social, dinner party discussion sessions and ethnographic work, wrapping this up in our cultural analysis techniques and storytelling abilities.  All of which got us to powerful findings that challenge the tired, unimaginative messages generally used by media and advertising to connect with this cohort.

Our Socialise team got to experiment with some wonderful outputs, too. An installation that featured in Viacom’s New York and London offices, notepads and a 15-minute documentary.

For more information on the study check out internationalinsights.viacom.com

As the concept of luxury becomes increasingly intangible in the networked age, brands are experimenting with digital to attract Generation Z says creative delivery exec, Elizabeth Holdsworth...

In the post-recession age of discreet anti-bling (think Kinfolk: rustic, white-filtered and highly Instagram-able lifestyle scenes), the idea of luxury is becoming ever more abstracted, and brands are experimenting with ways to position themselves as aspirational within the digital realm. How do you engage with a generation that has grown up online, visually fluent teens who are skilful digital strategists on Instagram, Twitter and Tumblr? Add to the equation that, until recently, this generation neither expected – or have ever had to pay for – online content.

Burberry’s Snapchat campaigns were an early stride in conquering the ethereal world of teen luxury. Since then Snapchat has morphed into the new catwalk. Meanwhile on Instagram, Calvin Klein’s #MyCalvins campaign rolls around in bed with a flawless Kendall Jenner and takes to the skate park with an open-shirted Justin Bieber. Because Facebook’s biggest growing demographic is 55+, teens are seeking refuge away from older generations on platforms that are exclusive to them. Snapchat has over 100 million daily active users, 71% of which are under the age of 25.[1]

Originally released only on Tidal, Kanye West’s seventh studio album, ‘The Life Of Pablo’, is a haphazard attempt to bring luxury consumerism to the digital world of teens, the Gen Z demographic who are less interested in glitzy material possessions than the allure of new technology and services. Fans could only listen to’The Life Of Pablo’ by signing up to the premium streaming service.

Launched in October 2014, Perez Hilton labeled Tidal as ‘the streaming service for millionaires’, where the music itself takes on the flavour of a luxury status symbol. This sense of exclusivity comes from the subscription fee itself and also from the service’s options and respective price points — differences in audio quality that will only be perceptible to those already owning high-end sound systems. Any difference between Tidal’s so-called Premium and HiFi services will go unnoticed by consumers who are most likely to be streaming on smartphones and listening though headphones.

Tidal’s subscriber numbers reportedly doubled in the two weeks following the release of ‘The Life Of Pablo’, but it seems the tide of exclusive streaming is yet to turn. The platform is still dwarfed by services like Spotify, and has also failed to keep pace with Apple Music, which emerged around the same time. Retracting the original plan of Tidal-only exclusivity, ‘The Life Of Pablo’ has since emerged on other music services, achieving much greater impact. However Tidal’s subscriptions look set to explode following the release of Beyoncé’s video album Lemonade, available to view by subscription only.

This isn’t about luxury sound. Teens don’t care about lossless, hi-fi audio. They care about what’s trending, being part of the peer conversation, keeping up with the world’s biggest artists. This is about aspiration, of belonging, selling a more abstract idea of luxury than ever before — a dreamy Instagram still of the Kardashian Klan reclining in white Calvins. If luxury brands want to connect with Generation Z, they need to learn a life lesson from Pablo and continue to communicate these moments digitally, while constantly being aware of the limitations – though growing potential – of the paywall.

[1] DMR, By the Numbers: 60 Amazing Snapchat Statistics.

The rise of family cinema-going looks to be about more than just the 'Frozen effect', says Crowd DNA director, Euan Mackay, as he explores the latest FAME data (while trying to get a certain song out of his head)...

We have been fortunate enough to work alongside Digital Cinema Media for the last three years on the cinema industry currency research project (FAME). This week, I went along to speak at the launch of this year’s findings, talking through some of the more interesting themes to have emerged.

The survey covers a multitude of topics, so provides a mountain of data on cinema-goers, particularly when the option to multibase/fuse to TGI is taken into account. Here are some key takeouts for you:

– Cinema remains an important leisure pursuit in the UK with 48% of the population having been to the movies in the last month

– Cinema admissions seem to be somewhat Netflix-proof as admissions remain as strong as the last two years; though the impact is being felt in terms of movie rentals – both physical and digital are down from last year

– Cinema instills positive energising emotions compared to other media. It’s more likely to make people feel excited, happy and stimulated

– Cinema creates buzz and talkability. 67% say that watching a film in the cinema gives them something to chat about

– It’s still a great advertising vehicle. 87% having seen advertising before the main film

One interesting dynamic in the data relates to the rise and rise of family viewing at the cinema. As someone who is still laden with a Bear Necessities earworm after taking my five-year-old daughter to see the Jungle Book (Bill Murray and Christopher Walken are excellent), this struck a chord with me.

We see that family viewing has increased again for the third year running, suggesting more of an on-going trend than simply a ‘Frozen-effect’. Going to the movies is a real considered activity for families, who are more likely to plan their trip in advance. They are also more likely to consider a trip to the movies as a great way to spend quality time with others. And talking of spending, families go beyond the bare necessities when it comes to splashing out in the foyer – with an average spend of £17.30 compared to £12.90 for the average cinema-goer.

Now, altogether… Look for the Bear Necessities…

As the smartphoned world continues to go crazy for messaging apps, Anna Chapman, associate director in our business and strategy team, looks at how WhatsApp can power research...

At Crowd we’re always keen to work with new methodologies – and have a particular fascination with trying to appropriate the myriad, UX-lovely platforms and services that exist outside of the insight industry. Recently we’ve found ourselves using WhatsApp on a number of projects. So what’s so great about using a messaging app for qual?

Since we’re in the business of capturing natural responses, it’s a no-brainer to meet people in an environment where they feel at home. And people feel very comfortable using WhatsApp, because many of us are on it a lot of the time. The usage stats show that globally it’s trumping more conventional social platforms, with one third of WhatsApp’s 990 million users chatting on it daily and the average user sending 1,000 messages per month (42 billion per day, apparently). What’s more, WhatsApp is growing faster than its prodigious parent company Facebook did, even in its heyday.

WhatsApp is rather large...
WhatsApp is rather large...

Cost, or lack of it, is one of the reasons that WhatsApp is so popular. What’s not to love about an app that allows you to chat with your friends for free, wherever they are in the world, in a private space? And, the good news is that it’s also a free platform for research – at least for now.

WhatsApp beats using a community for a number of reasons, primarily because it’s far less hassle for everyone involved. Members don’t have to make an effort to register and recall a password, meaning dropout rates are much lower. Moderators can easily nudge people into action when they’re hanging out right there in the space (rather than having to prompt them with an email and redirect them to an unfamiliar community). One of our team admits to having a ‘chat’ from the gym on his phone. This accessibility is definitely a benefit for the client, if not for the time-poor researcher…

WhatsApp is highly adaptable and has worked for us across diverse projects, from celebrity futureproofing with 35-55 year-olds in the UK to a hefty global piece on childhood. Across the board, we’ve been impressed by the quality of responses. Communities can sometimes feel impersonal, causing nervous participants to hold back, wary of the strangers in the room. But people are used to sharing information with their friends on WhatsApp so they tend to be chattier and give bolder answers, smattered with emojis.

Increasingly we’re using images and video to communicate with our audience and it’s second nature for people to share short form media and links on WhatsApp. What’s more, screenshot conversations look great in presentations. Of course, much of the above can be applied to using social media in general for research and we’ve also had great results with Tumblr, Instagram and Pinterest. Suitability is uppermost – it’s important to use a platform that resonates with your target audience in each case.

When you’re planning a global project, you need to consider market and audience variations. In the US, for example, Facebook messenger dominates for adults and teens use Viber. But in Latin America and the Middle East, two thirds of internet users are WhatsApping. Of course, it makes sense to use native platforms wherever possible, so in China choose WeChat, or Kakao Talk in South Korea. It’s also easy to use different messaging apps in one project.

Naturally, there are downsides (and we’re not about to completely ditch the more research industry-specific online tools we also often use just yet) – it can be overwhelming trying to maintain conversations with numerous people across the world at once, so we recommend using WhatsApp as part of the project; in a smallish diary task, for example. We tend to use it as one element in our overall approach, supporting it with more in-depth interviews, expert opinion or workshops afterwards.

As messaging apps continue to flourish, WhatsApp – plus no doubt future offerings that will emerge – will become an important methodology, offering us an alternative to more conventional communities and other mobile research tools, and a fluid, credible way into the conversations that get us to the heart of contemporary culture.

Tech Transformations

Introducing our global tech transformations study for Facebook...

We’re delighted to be able to share a first instalment from our major study on how technology is transforming lives in partnership with Facebook IQ. Titled Tech Transformations, this project identifies, explores and ultimately celebrates a host of new forces that are impacting lives globally.

This study had us on the ground in Nigeria (Lagos), South Korea (Seoul), the UK (London) and US (Brooklyn and San Francisco), interviewing experts and early adopters, and conducting ethnographic and remote-ethno methods. We also ran a quantitative survey in all markets, dug deep into secondary trends sources and were informed by internal data analysis from Facebook.




We’ll be able to share much more about the work, including film content, in the coming months, with the trends falling into these five thematic areas:

Personal Sustainability 

In an age where we can monitor, map and predict what’s going on inside of us, technology isn’t just about simplifying our lives. It’s about giving us the ability to engineer the best possible version of ourselves, with the ultimate aim of ensuring our own personal sustainability. 

Mobile Empowerment

As underserved populations in emerging markets gain access to the internet for the first time – notably through mobile devices – they are discovering the benefits of economic, entrepreneurial, educational and other opportunities previously unavailable. 

Playing With Food

As food culture expands online and local cuisine becomes global, there’s a growing consciousness around sustainable food production to combat future shortages and environmental drawbacks. 

Reinventing Rituals

As technology penetrates our everyday lives, it’s altering how we interact with each other, reshaping rituals, transforming old traditions and amplifying celebrations.

Embracing Identity

How people express themselves in terms of age, gender, looks, sexual orientation, relationships, spirituality and more is no longer binary.

Tech Transformations For 2016 And Beyond

Five Trends from CES 2016

With CES over for another year, Crowd DNA creative delivery exec and self-confessed tech addict Tom Eccles takes a look at five key trends coming out of this year's show...

In the world of technology, January means one thing: CES. The Consumer Electronics Show, now in its 48th year, is a showcase of everything up-and-coming in tech, ranging from the regular (televisions, headphones and computers) to the not-so-regular (autonomous vehicles, drones and virtual reality). It is a seemingly endless few days of product launches, demonstrations and conferences. Here’s a look at five key trends coming out of this year’s show.

Virtual reality finally takes off

After being on the horizon for years, it seems like 2016 will be the year that VR finally takes off. Oculus, having launched on Kickstarter back in 2012 before being snapped up by Facebook for $2bn, has finally announced the start of pre-orders for its Oculus Rift VR headset. The goggles go on sale in April, and retail for a hefty $599 – probably out of reach of the mainstream consumer, but an unmistakable step forward for the technology. Along with it comes a raft of competitors: namely the HTC Vive, and the PlayStation VR – both planned to launch this year.

As the technology powering VR moves forward, so too do the applications it is used for. While the most obvious application is gaming, VR is beginning to expand to other realms such as education and retail. Audi, for example, plans to outfit dealerships with VR headsets, allowing potential buyers to virtually customise and explore any Audi model to their liking.

Wearables MK2

Rewind to last year’s CES, and wearables were all the rage. It was the year of the long-awaited Apple Watch, the year wearables would finally grow up and be adopted into the mainstream. Initial releases, however, fell short of expectations. This year, tech innovators have moved towards single-application devices, designed to do just one thing – and do it well.

New products include the Digitsole, a shoe that houses an in-built fitness tracker, and the Samsung Welt – a digital belt designed to detect bloating, and warn of your impending weight gain. Wisewear’s SOS bracelet turns an innocent looking bracelet into a personal attack alarm, with a double tap sending a distress signal and GPS location to a friend via text message.

Game of drones

Drone tech reached new heights at this year’s CES. From the carbon fibre Yuneec Typhoon, equipped with a 4K camera, to the world’s smallest and lightest drone – the Mota JetJat Nano – drones are clearly well on their way towards the mass market. As drones become smaller and more affordable, they also become more advanced – able to automatically follow owners for the ultimate in-action selfie, avoid impending obstacles, and keep out of restricted areas.

Not content with drones only being used for aerial photography and small deliveries, Chinese company EHang became the first to unveil a drone capable of carrying human cargo. Equipped with in-built 4G WiFi and air-conditioning, the EHang 184 can hold one person and fly anywhere within a 23-minute radius. The passenger simply inputs their destination into the onboard tablet, before being whisked away. The EHang 184 could be yours, for only $300,000.

Connected automobiles

Despite only exhibiting at CES since 2007, auto manufacturers have taken the show by storm – demonstrating the continuing convergence between vehicles and technology. With a 200-mile range, and a relatively cheap $30,000 price tag, the Chevy Bolt could be the electric car to finally break through. BMW’s Air Touch allows drivers to control their vehicle’s infotainment system using gestures, while Ford demonstrated integration with Amazon’s Echo voice recognition – allowing drivers to issue voice commands such as “close the garage door”.

The journey towards driverless cars was also centre stage at CES. General Motors announced a $500m investment in ride sharing service Lyft to create a network of driverless cars, while Kia took to the stage to promise a fully-autonomous vehicle by 2030.

Smarter homes

The ‘Internet of Things’ has long promised a home full of connected devices, from fridges that automatically replenish food, to intelligent thermostats that adjust the temperature based on your proximity to the home. Despite an apparent lack of consumer appetite for such products, manufacturers unveiled a raft of new connected devices at CES. With Samsung’s new smart fridge, you can view inside the fridge remotely – allowing users to check the contents while in the supermarket. It can even alert you to food about to pass its expiry date.

Other smart home devices are simply improvements on already existing products. The Netatmo Presence is a connected outdoor security camera. Where it differs from competitors is a smart algorithm enabling the camera to distinguish between people, cars and animals.

If anything, the latest CES shows us that 2016 will be a year of refinement, rather than brand new innovations. It will be the year that long promised tech, such as virtual reality, finally delivers – while the quest for an all-in-one wearable will be parked in favour of multiple devices, each focusing on one function. Drones, having finally become affordable in 2015, will continue their flight towards mass market adoption; meanwhile, our cars and homes are both gradually becoming smarter, promising to interact with each other and respond in ways previously only seen in science fiction.