Brands need cultural rethink

1 December 2014

NEW YORK: Brands must broaden their understanding of what it means to be part of culture if they want to thrive in an age where consumer attitudes and behaviours are changing at an unprecedented rate.

Tasha Space, managing director of consultancy CS Space and an adjunct professor at Columbia University's Center for New Media Teaching and Learning, discussed this topic ahead of a Warc Webinar on The Business of Culture on December 10.

"A lot of people default to thinking culture is the arts," she said. (For more, including examples of companies successfully exploring this area, read Warc's exclusive report: Brands and the new cultural imperative.)

"Those are vehicles for how we express what's important to us and our values, but culture is so much more than that."

A more accurate definition of the term in the business context, Space ventured, incorporates the multitude of forces that help shape the ways people think, act and choose.

"It's looking at it as the dynamics interacting around us that are giving shape to how we make decisions, and giving shape to what we value collectively as a group, because our values are how we make choices," she said.

"So if the conditions surrounding us are changing, they are creating a force on us that is influencing our value system. And when our values change, the way we make decisions change."

Examples of the major dynamics currently at work - and directly impacting each other - include digital and social media, urbanisation and the rise of the millennial generation.

And it is no coincidence that millennials embody a unique set of wants and needs, given that their environment has witnessed drastic processes of disruption.

"In the last seven years, we've really seen this incredible proliferation of change," said Space.

"As the rate of acceleration of change keeps increasing, it has the ability to impact how we make choices, which impacts businesses' ability to make decisions."

Largely, this is because the developing cultural milieu has yielded new expectations regarding how corporations should behave.

"We're much more aware of how any individual choice impacts the whole. So we look at institutions differently today than we did, say, 10 or 15 years ago," said Space.

"We have a different awareness or a different value for seeing how the world works. We don't look at corporate choices in a vacuum or a silo anymore, because we less and less see the world that way."

Register here to attend "The Business of Culture", Warc's webinar on December 10 featuring Tasha Space.

Data sourced from Warc