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.

Join Crowd DNA New York’s Tom Eccles, and London’s Phoebe Trimingham, for a session exploring how storytelling is evolving, to be captured and told from a distance...


November 11, 9am PST, 12pm EST, 5pm GMT – sign up

(Access via Demio; 45 minutes including Q&A)


Storytelling is not as straightforward as it once was. Not only is it harder to physically capture stories in a distant world, it’s also harder to capture the attention of those you’re telling stories to. In a time of rapid and unpredictable change, storytelling– from the method of delivery to the content itself – has pivoted and adapted at speed.

In this session, we’ll look at what has changed about how we tell stories in a time where most things are done at a distance. We’ll consider not only what different forms of remote storytelling have emerged in popular culture, but also how we – as researchers – can continue to build empathy with people, and understand our audiences without visiting or seeing them in person.

Presented by Crowd DNA’s global film lead, Tom Eccles, and associate director Phoebe Trimingham from our Socialise team, this session will consider:

– What new forms of storytelling have captured the spotlight in 2020

– How brands can use these new forms of storytelling in their communications

– How we can help stakeholders build empathy with their audiences and understand them without being face to face

– Ways research teams can continue to socialize their projects in a distant workplace

– How we capture and create impactful content at Crowd DNA

We hope you can make it!


November 11, 9am PST, 12pm EST, 5pm GMT – sign up

(Access via Demio; 45 minutes including Q&A)


 

Inspired by Giorgia Lupi and Stefanie Posavec's Dear Data, Crowd DNA NYC had a go at charting their own week in transportation...

The ability to create and communicate stories is one of the evolutionary factors that has defined human development. By using stories to share ideas, humans have been able to build philosophies, belief systems and form entire communities around one collective goal.

Through creativity and invention we have been able to play with storytelling, using myriad ways to share our message and captivate our audience. In the cultural insights field, telling a story using data in a creative and engaging manner can be challenging.

It’s important to make the stories we tell with data as compelling and easy to understand as possible (just ask our Crowd Numbers team). In order to do this, we turn to different sources of inspiration. One creativity sparker is Dear Data, a TedTalk and book about two new friends who maintained a relationship via postcards charting a topic of the week.

Giorgia Lupi and Stefanie Posavec recorded 52 weeks in untraditional data charts – with topics ranging from compliments received to swearwords said. Inspired by these two penpals, our New York team decided to chart their own week of transportation. Without discussing how we’d interpret the task, we developed our own unique takes.

Here’s what we ended up with…

Eden spends much of her commute sandwiched between fellow 4/5 train riders, but uses books to transport herself away:

When commuting solo, you might find Hollie speeding over the Williamsburg Bridge on her bike. But when she’s joined by the fifth (and four-legged) member of the Crowd NYC team, Boboji, it’s a ride on the J train:

Tom commutes into the office from just across the water in Brooklyn. In summer, you’ll catch him zipping over the Manhattan Bridge on his Boosted Board, but with the cold of winter comes a return to the subway:

The office’s only Manhattan resident, Lizzy walks to work, making use of the time to catch up on podcasts and brush up on her speed-walking:

What did we learn from our experiment? The first standout is that there are clearly many different ways to represent the same data. Even what might seem like relatively boring data – travelling to and from work every day – can be shown in an interesting and dynamic way.

It also showed us the value in collecting additional data beyond the basics. For example, Lizzy’s chart shows how environmentally friendly each method of transport was; and Hollie maps when she was walking with her dog, versus with other people. These additional elements of context all come together to tell a more complete story in our week of transport.

So next time you’re going about a seemingly mundane task, exercise your creative muscles and think about the different factors surrounding a particular topic – and how this could be represented visually.

Cuba: In 10 Photographs

Crowd DNA's Hollie Jones took a trip to Cuba, documenting her experiences via photojournalism. Here it is, through her eyes, in ten images...

Politically isolated since the 1950s, Cuba is one of the last bastions of communism and perhaps the least commercialized nation in the Americas. Having bypassed decades of international trade tourism, Cuba has managed to preserve a unique national identity, making it a fascinating country – lost in time. As travel and trade barriers have started to relax, we decided to take a trip to Cuba and use photojournalism as a way to journal the experience (photojournalism is a method we use in many of our projects, though we don’t generally get the chance to share client work, so this is a nice opportunity to present the approach!).

There are few basketball courts in the city of Havana and so street games are popular. Stores selling basketball clothing and merchandise are referred to as ‘basketball museums’, because people visit the stores just to look at products – prices are way beyond local affordability.

The biggest challenges to local businesses are supply and human resources. There is no wholesale system, so restaurants must source food from the same markets and street vendors like these pictured – the same that are open to consumers, and where quantities are very limited.

Tobacco has been grown in Cuba for hundreds of years and farmers have a huge wealth of experience to draw on. Many argue that Cuban cigars are the best in the world. The Communist government of Cuba exercises a firm hold over the cigar industry. While this means that strict quality controls are in place, it also allows officials in Havana to control supply and keep prices high.

Havana’s empty buildings, blank wall spaces, tourism and street traffic provide optimal conditions for street art and graffiti to flourish. Few murals representing Fidel Castro, Che Guevara or communist propaganda remain; instead Cuban street artists explore folk and political narratives through cartoons, graffiti and abstract themes.

Entrepreneurship was forbidden in Cuba until President Raul Castro eased restrictions and, before 2010, barber shops and beauty salons were state-run. With the legalization of self-employment across a number of categories – from home-based snack shops and restaurants, to beauticians and barbers – home businesses have also emerged, such as the porch run hair salon pictured.

Cowboy culture is vivid across Cuba. Agriculture and tourism are the most prominent means of income, with cowboy culture straddling both industries. The Viñales Valley is a UNESCO World Heritage site and home to many of Cuba’s tobacco farms. It is one of the last places in the world where traditional methods of tobacco growing have survived, and a hub for the cowboy way of life.

Trade restrictions imposed upon Cuba after the revolution meant a very limited import of cars. Access to the US automotive industry was cut off, and other countries manufacturing cars were just too far away. In spite of new, more lenient trade agreements, the roads of Cuba remain dominated by classic cars (and the people of Cuba have mechanical skills that are second to none). In the spirit of Cuban entrepreneurialism, classic car owners offer tours in their vehicles in a highly lucrative tourist experience.

 

Photojournalism is a powerful tool for building empathy with audiences and understanding the realities of life across the globe. Photojournalism is also part of how Crowd DNA provides culturally charged commercial advantage to the world’s most exciting brands. To find out more, contact us at hello@crowdDNA.com

 

The Leading Edge

Our breakfast series is back for 2019. First up: how we use leading edge behaviour to predict what’s next for our clients and for mainstream consumers…

Date: February 28

Time: 8.15am-9am

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

Staying ahead of upcoming trends is vital for brands. But if you keep doing the same insight work, digging deeper into the same audiences, in the same geographies, probably in the same way as your competitors, you’ll inevitably get to the same outputs. Ideas become incremental and generic. You keep the spaces that your brand operates in small, safe and contained.

In this session, Dr Matilda Andersson, our London managing director, and senior consultant Roberta Graham explain how we get beyond those small spaces by using leading edge behaviour to predict what’s next for our clients – and, crucially, how we apply the learnings to strategies that target more mainstream consumers.

We’ll bust the common misunderstandings associated with working with leading edgers – like, why use an unrepresentative sample? Isn’t it just cool hunting? Isn’t this only relevant to niche brands?  – before moving on to the exciting ways that we collaborate with these audiences.

We’ll share ideas on how to use hashtag analysis and cast cultural gatekeepers; how to shift from working with ‘respondents’ to ‘collaborators’; how leading edge typologies are by no means limited to those of the ‘cool kid’ variety; how, through analysis of our conversations with early adopters, experts and influencers, we reach truly fresh perspectives on engaging everyday consumers.   

If you’d like to join us for leading edge conversation and croissants, please fill out this form or contact events@crowdDNA.com. And feel free to pass this invite on to colleagues (leading edge or otherwise).

Words In The Workshop

Even the best workshop ideas can get lost in the action. Phoebe Trimingham from Crowd DNA’s Socialise team shares thoughts on how ‘live copywriting’ can be used to spot, enhance and lift them to the surface...

Workshops are a fundamental part of our work at Crowd DNA. They get people talking, thinking and really engaging with cultural insights. We use them at various stages of a project: from aligning teams around trends and topics, to ideating and developing new products and concepts. Whatever the purpose, we root everything (and everyone) in culture from the offset.

But workshops can be challenging. There’s a lot going on, a lot to take in, and a lot of structure required to make them a success. All to often, great ideas get lost within the action. At Crowd, we deploy various methods to make sure our workshops are always impactful.

Integrating live copywriting skills is one such exciting addition to a workshop design – and it can really help lift the day’s creativity and ideas, as well as enhance the clarity and quality of the final outputs.

Live copywriting has multiple benefits depending on the business challenge – but we think it’s most effective within concept development workshops. While there’s not really a one-size-fits-all approach to live copywriting, nonetheless here’s a few general best-practice tips that we’ve picked up.

Know what you’re walking into

It sounds obvious, but the more research of the workshop’s wider context – and the discourse surrounding it – the more prepared you’ll be to tackle the language challenges on the day. I make sure I’m briefed in by the wider project team at Crowd, understanding the category, competitors and cultural landscape; and getting familiar with any associated acronyms and industry-specific phrases. We always write a vocab sheet of useful words and thought-starters beforehand, and prepare a few ‘wish-list’ options of how we’d like to push the language further in the actual workshop.

Who, what and where?

Next, zoom in on the day itself. What are the aims and objectives of the session? We treat our role within it as we would any writing brief: who will read the final output? What is the purpose, what’s the story? Where will the final copy appear? Is it a summary report to present to stakeholders, for example, or a series of polished concepts to test with real life consumers? Once you know the intended audience and purpose, the tone and overall focus of what you’re writing will also become clear.

Listen and edit-as-you-go

Live copywriting is tricky, especially when trying to digest lots of people’s complex ideas into accessible language. The key to any good edit is knowing what to leave out. So listen carefully to what is being said and use your knowledge of the wider context and overall workshop objective to decide what’s important, and what’s worth getting rid of. Similarly, as you write, spot if any ideas are being repeated. Can anything be clubbed into themes? Does anything contradict, or disconnect from the overall purpose? Be prepared for one-off word challenges: ‘what’s a better way of saying X?’, as well as delivering polished rewrites of ideas as they’re being presented.

Remember: clarity is king

Lastly, if it feels like the language is complicated, it probably is. It’s the writer’s job to cut through the noise, so a good tip for dealing with complexity is to quickly sketch the idea out as a graphic, along with a collection of direct quotes underneath. Mark it up and return to it during a break to rethink and rewrite when you have more space. If you can, sit away from the group when they’re feeding back ideas, to allow you to focus on objectively writing up in the clearest way. Finding the right words is crucial when translating big ideas but, for even further clarity, we often pair our live-writers with live-illustrators to make the ideas as instantly understandable (and visually exciting) as possible.

If you’d like to hear more about how we use live copywriting in workshops, please email hello@crowdDNA.com for a chat.

 

Catch Crowd DNA’s London managing director Dr Matilda Andersson and senior consultant Roberta Graham discussing how leading edge behaviour can predict what’s next for mainstream consumers...

MRS hosts Methodology In Context on November 22 in London  – a chance for insight professionals to explore new, creative and dynamic methodologies and how best to apply them within research. We’re excited to announce that Crowd DNA’s Matilda Andersson and Roberta Graham will be presenting Leading The Pack: a session focussing on how leading edge behaviour can predict what’s next for mainstream consumers, and the methods and tools we use to do so.

Predicting the future is at the top of any insight and innovation wish list. All too often, however, brands fail to spot what’s coming next by sticking too close to their already existing consumers. Using leading edge participants as predictors of mainstream behaviour is obviously nothing new, but doing so accurately – and in a way that’s relevant for specific categories or brands – remains one of the greatest enigmas within our industry.

With that in mind they’ll ask: what tools and frameworks do we need to turn this art into science? And is observing ‘leading-edgers’ the future of brand health and cultural relevancy?

For those keen to learn more about how we use leading edge behaviour to keep an eye on the future, you can find out more info here.

Continuing our journey through the challenges and rewards of urban living, City Limits Volume Two explores mobility…

We’re back with another packed issue of City Limits – our view on urban living (the good and the bad), and how brands can reach for culturally-charged commercial advantage in these high-drama mega-spaces.

While Volume One took a deep dive into the urban experience, this time we’re focusing on mobility.

Mobility means much more than getting from A to B. It’s how we navigate and move around urban environments. It’s how we flock, migrate and end up living in cities all around the world. It’s how people succeed and progress in them. It’s also how we interact with one another while moving around them. 

In this issue, we explore transport innovations, the role of data, emergent trends and the visual language of movement, exploring how mobility is changing the very shape and size of cities across the globe.

Volume Two is available to download here. Enjoy the ride.

Watch the video trailer below: