Introducing City Limits, a series of pieces from Crowd DNA exploring the global urban experience...
At Crowd DNA, cities are central to our work. Projects take us to many of them worldwide; briefs often seek to understand how people experience these complex spaces, or where the global commonalities of urban living give way to local nuance and unique challenges. It’s through cities that we find meaning. And, in a time where the global urban population is growing at around one million people each week, cities matter now more than ever.
Which takes us to Crowd DNA’s City Limits: a series of pieces in which we’ll explore these ever-growing hubs of humanity.
Join us as we take a view on the growing loneliness epidemic, how brands represent the urban experience, trends that are shaping the city of today and what our cities will look like by 2060.
From our city to yours, welcome to City Limits. Volume One is available to download here.
We all know that spotting and understanding trends is the key to staying ahead of the curve. But in this world of constant innovation, differentiating between a fleeting fad and meaningful cultural progression is actually pretty difficult. Knowing your micro from your macro, or your emergent from your dominant, has never been so important.
So what exactly is a trend, and at what point should brands take notice?
In this session, we’ll unravel what trends are all about and explore some recent cultural shifts that brands need to pay attention to in 2018 and beyond. We’ll provide a guide on working with trends; including tips on how to future-proof strategies and build lasting connections with consumers.
If you’d like to join us for coffee, croissants and a ‘how to’ guide to working with trends, please contact Pauline Rault. And feel free to pass this invite on to colleagues too.
Here’s what went down at our Rise event all about modern families (where we welcomed our youngest ever Rise attendee, too!)…
At our latest Rise session in London, Crowd DNA’s managing director Dr Matilda Andersson and associate director Lucy Crotty (who also happen to be mums) spoke about modern parenthood in all its glory and grossness.
Starting bright and early (naturally, they’ve both got young kids), our presenters highlighted the need for family-centric brands, businesses and society to start taking note. With 90 percent of all new parents being millennials, what a family looks like – and what a ‘family’ even means – is fundamentally changing. And, despite some recent reworkings in popular culture, this pair of millennial mums still feel misrepresented.
But it’s not all bad. The key shifts shaping modern families reveal much to be celebrated: women’s empowerment, working mums and an appreciation of multifaceted female identity; the move away from ‘doofus dad’ to ‘involved dad’ and a focus on male roles in family life; and, crucially, the backlash against ‘perfect parenting’ towards a more diverse, realistic and relatable portrayal of parenthood.
The question, then, stands of how to speak properly to these shifting families. Matilda and Lucy offered loads of thought-starters on how brands can recognise opportunities with modern parents. By being representative, tapping into their sense of purpose, embracing creative play, or helping them carve out quality time via tech-convenience – just some of the ways to speak better to families of all shapes and sizes.
Thanks to all that attended, ate croissants and help distract a crying baby. We’ve wrapped up the key points and more hints for brands into a digital magazine, available to download here.
Crowd DNA’s Joey Zeelen looks at the sobering-up of Gen Z through his own experience of teen drinking...
Growing up in Holland in the noughties, my use of alcohol – or drugs, we’re talking Holland here – wasn’t any different to others my age. I started drinking at 15 and, like most millennials, alcohol was a big part of life. It formed my identity; it was the centre of socialising and the entirety of my teenage fun.
Saying that, it’s sometimes surprising to read about the sobering-up of Gen Z. Most explanations (health consciousness, well-being) fall flat when I think of the importance of alcohol during my own teen years. To understand this shift, I sought out some explanations on an internal level. When looking at my own drivers for teen drinking, Gen Z’s rejection of alcohol starts to make a lot more sense…
As a teen, alcohol shaped my sense of self and influenced the people I looked up to. Liam Gallagher, Kate Moss, music from Nirvana and gabber house – they were all inseparable from alcohol (and drugs). Now, icons like Lil Yachty and Adwoa Aboah promote a new culture of abstinence where it’s okay to say no. Intoxication is no longer a requirement of ‘cool’.
A big driver for teen drinking was experimentation. Alcohol made me feel different, brave; it enabled me to do things I’d not dare otherwise. But is this still relevant? When talking to Gen Z, it always strikes me how open they are to subjects that were once alien or embarrassing to me (unless drunk). Perhaps alcohol isn’t needed for experimentation anymore, and they are simply more capable of discovering on their own, sober, terms. It’s no doubt, too, that the online space has become a better and more efficient vehicle for discovery.
While socialising played out in the pub/club in my teen years, social connections now form in different spaces: usually in isolation, on social media or at home. Similarly, online entertainment and platforms now provide young people with the stimuli and experiences that would have once been gained by going out drinking with friends.
Long-story-short, I enjoyed alcohol because it enabled me to ‘let go’. Now, young people are so focused on results and prospects (not surprising when you look at the societal pressures they face), which must influence their ability to go wild or be unproductive the next day. On top of that, when they do party, they’re image conscious – why become embarrassingly drunk when it might be immortalised on social media?
But I doubt the desire to ‘let go’ has gone for Gen Z; it’s just taken on different forms. New indulgences now exist, which are better suited to their needs. We only have to look at the growing Xanax culture – linked to rappers like Lil Xan or Lil Peep – to see how, from a cultural stance, it makes sense. The effects of these drugs are less noticeable (or embarrassing), and offer a potential way of dealing with the pressures and anxieties of modern teenage-hood.
Secondary sources can help inform insights, but to really get to know young people and understand their drinking habits, we need to deep dive into their actual lives, needs and daily motivations, too. Sobering-up then makes a lot more sense through the eyes of a boozy millennial – cheers!
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
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.
Crowd DNA’s Andy Crysell asks whether the teen experience is in decline and, if so, what it means for self-identity and brands. To get a copy of our Death Of A Teenager cultural forecasting report, read on…
Hot on the heels of the widely reported scientific claims that adolescence now extends from 10 to 24, we thought it opportune to publish a revamped version of our Death Of A Teenager cultural forecasting report.
What would it mean to have never been a teenager, as we knew being a teenager? As grown-ups continue to avoid, er, growing up, and younger generations start connecting with culture – and even hitting puberty – at an earlier age, the previously well-defined ‘teenage years’ don’t make so much sense. A collective experience of ‘being a teenager’ seems to be coming to an end.
In this report we map out the driving forces behind this change and ask how it will impact self-identity formation. Also, given that the marketing communications industry has a habit (near obsession) with all things youth, we look at the relevance that this will no doubt have for brands.
Crowd DNA’s head of insight and innovation, Dr Matilda Andersson, talked millennials and mobility at Jaguar Land Rover TechFest...
When I was first asked to speak at Jaguar Land Rover Tech Fest, I was pretty sure they’d got the wrong person. The truth is I don’t own a car: I can’t even drive. But when I realised the panel was going to discuss millennials and mobility I felt more confident I could contribute to the debate.
As we know, owning a car isn’t the traditional marker of the transition to adulthood that it once was. The same can be said for getting married and having kids. They’re all still happening, just later or in non-traditional ways. Even if cars still play a significant role in the life of today’s millennials, the difference lies in what car ownership means: the values assigned to it, the expectations surrounding it and how it elevates the life of its driver.
But have we reached the end of the road for car ownership? This was the pressing question we were asked to talk about. Beside me on stage were some pretty impressive millennials: online star Daniel Howell, YouTube vlogger Jim Chapman, broadcaster and writer Alice Levine, Neil Sharpe (director of mobility solutions at Bosch), Yihyun Lim (associate director MIT Design Lab) – and Sebastian Peck (managing director Jaguar Land Rover InMotion), who hosted the panel.
While preparing for the debate I summarised mobility into three major shifts which formed my point of view on the day:
Millennials want flexible spaces where they can live, work and relax.
Many millennials live in smaller spaces with fewer rooms than their parents. Most live alone or with flatmates instead of their family. Others save money by living in multi-generational households. They travel more, work more and spend more time outside their homes than previous generations. As a result, millennials crave places to relax, socialise and provide privacy on the move.
As our living spaces continue to shrink and commutes get longer, the car can play its own role in creating a ‘home away from home’ for the millennial cohort.
Millennials want products and services that enhance their life experiences more fully by saving them time and reducing hassle through simple design. Technology plays a crucial role in facilitating the idea that every moment counts and that they can accomplish more in less time. Brands that enable drivers to move seamlessly from one space to the next without interruptions to their connected lifestyles are those that will succeed.
It’s not only the concept of time and space that millennials have redefined, but the idea of luxury and symbols of status. In the eyes of millennials, luxury is no longer just about expense or scarcity. A fatigue from too much luxury is driving consumers towards more casual brands and more conscientious purchases that nurture the health of themselves and the planet.
What if as the luxury market shifts, ownership of exclusive goods will increasingly compete against a demand for experiences and digital bragging rights? What if one ride in a luxury supercar posted on social media was preferable for aspirant millennials than owning vehicle themselves?
At the end of the debate, the audience at TechFest voted and – surprise, surprise – 77% of those in attendance didn’t think we’ve reached the end of the road for car ownership. I managed to get the final word: ‘Ownership might still be relevant but it’s going to change. Shared ownership is the future.’