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:

Crowd IRL, IRL at AURA

Crowd DNA’s Andy Crysell and Joey Zeelen spoke (IRL) about getting IRL with clients at the latest AURA seminar in London…

Innovation in research usually conjures up images of eye-tracking, neuroscience and facial-coding. Perhaps even automation and AI, or using virtual reality as a research tool. But it’s not always about machines and tech. Often, stepping back into reality and immersing ‘in real life’ can trigger the alertness and receptivity needed to uncover new insights. Combine this immersion with actual, real-life clients and you get a whole new innovative approach: Crowd IRL. This is the subject that Crowd’s Andy Crysell and Joey Zeelen spoke about at AURA’s latest insight seminar in London.

Crowd IRL is what we call getting out on-the-road with stakeholder teams, immersing them in the lives and culture of people. Andy and Joey explained how it’s used to disrupt the confines of reporting back – going beyond simply inviting clients to attend the debrief or viewing facility, for example – before bringing Crowd IRL, to life, with our recent work for Axe.

Exploring the modern game of attraction around the world, the Axe work was an opportunity to flex Crowd’s methodology muscles. Briefly recapping the project (which covered eight markets using mobile missions, cultural reports, ethnographic sessions and, of course, Crowd IRL), Andy and Joey then presented the following ‘how tos’ for successful client immersions.

Plan well, but not too much  

It sounds obvious, but planning is key – it’s your fault if a client gets lost in the field! For Axe, a video intro and immersion pack was sent beforehand, alongside a clear budget and details of a WhatsApp group (vital). But Andy and Joey also explained the need to allow for detours or impromptu conversation by not over-planning. They kept the Axe briefing purposefully light and supplied simple thought-starters (instead of weighty discussion guides) to leave enough gaps for the magic to happen.

Set the tone and lean on local expertise

Next, they explained how they set the immersion ‘rules’ by briefing the Axe team to keep their senses switched on; to observe everything; and to let the consumer lead wherever possible. The benefit of local expertise was also highlighted by showing how collaboration with on-the-ground contributors helped unlock certain scenarios and articulate the details of discussion (crucial when clients were speaking to awkward teens about their love life).

Facilitate fluid sharing and wrapping-up

The importance of gathering and disseminating images, videos and notes was also discussed. For Axe, WhatsApp and WeChat were used during the immersions to encourage teams to share content in a fluid, low-friction fashion. When one group came up with something interesting, another group could then pick up on the same theme. This also helped with the all-important wrap-up session. Axe teams were plied with pizza then asked to share stories and contribute to rolling analysis, with the end goal being to ensure co-ownership among the global teams.

The presentation finished with Andy’s point that one-size doesn’t fit all when it comes to Crowd IRL. Projects can range from a few hours to a few days; feature different ages or different subcultures; and switch focus between regular consumers and experts. Among a sea of exciting, new technological innovations discussed at AURA, Crowd IRL stood out as a uniquely human and non-complex way to unearth truly empathetic insights.

Get in touch if you’d like to discuss how a Crowd IRL project could work for your team.

Walking the tightrope of diversity can be scary. Crowd's Roberta Graham shares ideas for authentically diverse branding...

The issue of diversity carries a lot of weight, and rightfully so. But how can brands avoid the usual pitfalls on the path to inclusivity? Many of our clients are scared to tread on such sensitive territory – others question whether they have a place there at all. Yet we believe that it’s possible (and necessary) for brands to engage with diversity. Here’s some thought starters to building inclusive brand futures.

Avoid tokenism

It’s important to focus on nuances rather than race, gender or sexuality as separate issues. These are not mutually exclusive! Ticking boxes in this way can get you into the danger zones of tokenism and be painfully obvious. For example, Johnnie Walker’s Jane Walker rebrand campaign was accused of appropriating women’s rights to increase sales. An unfortunate outcome considering Diageo as a whole have some very interesting stories to tell around their commitment to diversity.  Remember: crow-barring diversity into your brand will not work.

Stick with what you know

Becoming socially progressive doesn’t mean drastically altering your consumer profile. Jumping from targeting white cis men to creating comms centred around non-binary identity clearly isn’t the way to grow. Catering to the audience you already have with diversity in mind maintains your message while inviting others to join the party. But make sure to gain valuable insight before approaching any new demographics to avoid clunky, offensive stereotypes.

There is always room for progress

Examine your current and desired demographics. Focusing on their place within culture can identify opportunities for progression. For example, if you are selling predominantly to white cis women, considering their changing identity and how individuals are adapting to cultural shifts will help create representation in line with emergent trends. Ask yourself: what are early adopters in this category doing? How is femininity changing? Why is white, female identity important to your brand? What does all this look, speak and act like in your chosen markets?

Diversity works for everyone

Current and dominant narratives, such as those around white men, are not excluded from this; and intersectionality is not about erasing them from comms either. It is simply about achieving a fairer and more balanced representation, making space for everyone.

For this reason diversifying is key to broadening your customer base. Involving others in your brand identity allows you to communicate more widely. This can be a simple, subtle progression rather than a grand gesture.

And lastly, keep it simple

One-off, bold statements don’t work and often leave brands open to scrutiny. The kind of genuine progress that consumers want comes from sustained action and awareness. This can be as simple as more diverse casting; multiracial groups, complex female or LGBTQ+ roles and people of varied abilities have a place within every brand. Try to resist the temptation to labour the point. Remember, diversity is not about patting yourself on the back for creating a more accurate representation of the population.

Negotiating the web of diversity can be a challenge for any brand eager for change. Need an expert on your side? Get in touch to find out more.

Crowd DNA project producer Gabriel Noble shares tips for authentic and credible ways to recruit research participants...

At Crowd DNA, we’re often tasked with recruiting very specific audiences; be that leading edge consumers in Tokyo and Mumbai, or 17-year-old female skateboarders in the banlieues of Paris. In order to reach these types of individuals, sometimes traditional recruitment techniques just won’t cut it.

Instead, we take inspiration from other industries and use bespoke and on-the-ground methods (such as fashion street casting) to find people that really live and breathe their city. We often support this with digital recruitment methods, like hashtag analysis and social listening, to reach the perfect mix of individuals. Here are a few of our favourite alternative recruitment techniques.

On-the-ground methods

Street casting: instead of relying on our own industry, we regularly look to other sectors, bringing people onboard with skills from different backgrounds. This is where fashion street casters come in. They are confident and experienced in finding interesting and unusual individuals to help us reach client objectives.

Cultural gatekeepers: when researching subcultures around the world, cultural gatekeepers are often the key. We use the term gatekeepers to mean ‘insiders’ who can unlock access to groups who are usually hard to reach. They can be hired using our CrowdStars network or through platforms like Instagram, where we’re able to see how individuals are immersed in subcultures. Cultural gatekeepers are most relevant when we want to speak to leading edge individuals. 

Remote methods

Facebook advertising: Facebook has been getting a bad rap recently, but when running projects where we need to find individuals based on certain interests, its psychographic targeting is really useful to hone in on specific segments, areas or passions.

Hashtag analysis: hashtags have proven handy when we’ve needed to speak to niche groups. For instance, when tasked with finding cricket fans in New York (yes, that’s right, we found cricket fans in the US!), we investigated the hashtags that people were using around the subject to find a fantastic group of friends who told us about their passion for the game and, crucially, how they watch and consume it in the US.

Brandwatch: Brandwatch’s ability to scour multiple social media platforms for mentions – along with its precise geographic targeting – makes it a perfect tool for recruitment. Once we’ve identified relevant hashtags and keywords, this information can be uploaded and, bingo, Brandwatch shows us all the people from a specific research location that have mentioned what we’re looking for. This is also a good way to build upon preliminary hashtag analysis; putting it into practice to ensure we find those individuals we’re looking for, wherever they may be.

These alternative recruitment methods allow us to cast the net wider for greater range, less-jaded participants and more realistic representation; all to find the right mix of individuals to help our clients stay ahead of the game.

We’re shaking things up at our next Rise breakfast event, with a panel discussion exploring what cultural relevancy means for brands...

Date: June 28

Time: 8.15am-9:30am

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

We’re running what’s set to be a lively and inspiring panel session on June 28, exploring what cultural relevancy means for brands.

Our view? That cultural relevancy is a stand-out marker of brand health and of future potential, but will our panellists agree? And, if so, how exactly do you achieve the oft-debated, but ever elusive, A word: authenticity? What’s the difference between cultural relevancy and brand purpose? Assuming not all brands can become as culturally iconic as, say, Nike, what should they be aiming for instead? And how do you explain the importance of cultural relevancy to those who might consider it all just a bit too fluffy?

Join us for cultural conversation, plus the all-important coffee and croissants. To come along, please contact Pauline Rault and feel free to pass this invite on to colleagues too.

Our panellists:

Dr Matilda Andersson - managing director of Crowd DNA London, Matilda guides our team of trends specialists, researchers, strategists, designers, writers and film-makers in creating culturally charged commercial advantage for the world’s most exciting brands. Prior to Crowd DNA, she worked in senior strategy roles at the BBC and BBC Worldwide.

Marisa Brickman – commercial director at NTS Radio, Marisa is at the sharp end of forging links between brands and damn fine music culture. Before NTS, her roles included director of cultural insights at Saatchi & Saatchi, global head of brand communications at Diageo and festival director at Moogfest.

Stephen Greene – founder of convention-breaking volunteering movement RockCorps, which he describes as a pro-social marketing and entertainment company, and chairman of the National Citizen Service, Stephen is sure to bring a social cause and brand purpose angle to the debate.

Nina Manandhar – photographer, curator and author of the highly regarded ‘What We Wore’ visual record of UK street culture, Nina will offer us the creative’s perspective. Next to editorial work for the likes of i-D and Vogue, she collaborates with brands and organisations such as Nike, adidas, Tate and the British Council.

Phil Teer – former CSO at both St Luke’s and Brothers & Sisters, Phil is a strategy consultant and author. He’s masterminded culturally on-point campaigns for the likes of IKEA, Emirate Airlines and Coke. In his upcoming book, The Coming Age Of Imagination, he explores if automation and a universal basic income will lead to an explosion in creativity.

Chaired by: Andy Crysell (Crowd DNA group managing director).

Watch the video trailer below:

 

We get to work on lots of interesting and highly engaging projects at Crowd DNA, but collaborating with IKEA on the Clean Air brief was a particularly rewarding one...

With 80% of people who live in urban areas being exposed to air quality levels that exceed the World Health Organisation limit, this is a major topic. Unless action is taken now, the number of deaths will double by 2050 and will account for 12 every minute.

IKEA’s commitment to sustainability is widely recognised, with their ‘Better Everyday Life For The Many People’ maxim a major global talking point – which is where the clean air work fits in.

IKEA came to Crowd DNA requesting a comprehensive understanding of clean air (from awareness levels and misconceptions, to how it changes behaviour) in society around the world.

The first phase of the project looked to develop context and saw us producing a clean air report from extensive desk research and expert interviews – from leading toxicologists and start-ups CEOs on the front-line of air pollution innovation, to artists who are looking to creatively highlight the topic.

Stage two explored current consumer behaviours and attitudes related to clean air. We conducted mobile self-ethnography across the US, UK, China, Germany, Italy, Poland and India, using our understanding of behavioural science to better understanding true consumer behaviour in two key ways:

1. Mapping consumer behaviour/awareness over time to see if air pollution currently impacts how people live their lives

2. Providing our participants with air monitors to gauge personal air quality across their day to day lives, thus allowing us to see how increased awareness potentially disrupts behaviour.

Next, we visited each market to interview and film consumers in context, including reviewing their experiences with the air monitor devices and how much impact the data had on their actual lives. The filmed ethnography produced rich, narrative-led accounts of individual everyday experiences and how people really relate to the notion of clean air.

Embedding the findings in the IKEA business was a priority, too. We held collaborative innovation workshops to generate practical ideas for future product and service designs. IKEA have since used this insight and the ideas that came from these sessions to inform short and long term projects to tackle air pollution.

Alongside the workshops came an artworked and editorialised clean air survey, and a series of broadcast quality documentary films.

You can find out more about the Clean Air project here

Check out one of the films from the project below

We’ve packaged up our recent thinking around social media and agelessness into a new Crowd DNA culture report...

Following a talk earlier this year at the MRS Social Media Summit, we thought it worth extending some of our initial ideas around social media and its impact on a growing culture of agelessness.  

As traditional markers of adulthood are delayed; as people continue working way beyond retirement, and as the whole notion of ‘being a teenager’ continues to change, our distinct generational cohorts become blurred. It seems we can no longer pin particular behaviours to age, or even life stage.

In our latest Crowd DNA report, we explore this culture of agelessness and the impact that social media is having on its growth. We look at how and why it’s happening and the four biggest contributing factors from the online world.

To download a copy of ‘The Ageless World Of Social Media’ please click here.