The Importance Of Culture When Innovating

When working with clients recently in the food and drink sector, we were once again reminded of the value of deeply understanding the culture of a category within a country or region. This understanding must delve back into history, looking at how the culture has evolved over time and consider how trends will shape it in future. 

Why Is Culture Important?

Culture drives human behaviours and desires.  It’s the why behind the what.  At Untapped we’re known for repeatedly asking why, but our consumers can’t always tell us why they do something or have a certain opinion.  Unarticulated needs and beliefs can be extracted using projective and creative qualitative research tools, but this still won’t reveal how those beliefs got there in the first place and what motivates people. 

Once we understand cultural nuances, we can:

  1. Design these into innovative products and services.  The product and pack cues can reflect culture relevance, e.g. flavours, ingredients, formats and textures in foods and colours, fonts, imagery on pack.
  2. Ensure brands tell more relevant and human, emotional stories that their users can identify with.  These can help brands to resonate in a local market or provide the narrative as brands connect across cultures.

How To Unearth Culture

Cultural experts and semioticians analyse the dynamics that are shaping a category and influencing human needs and desires for the future.  Identifying how products and brands map in today’s and tomorrow’s culture together with their codes and cues determine how people navigate a category.  We also find that exploring adjacent categories and trends can provoke new thinking within an innovation space. 

This analysis is most actionable when it digs back into history, looking at the cultural influences that shaped how people think and behave today.  Taking food as an example, even within neighbouring European countries with multi-cultural dietary preferences, we see important nuances that explain why tastes and eating habits differ.

Summary Thoughts

When innovating products and ideas for the future, it’s not enough to base this on human insight and future trends. Successful brands need to tell more relevant, human and emotional stories with their consumers at the heart. 

Without understanding need cultural nuances, this will be not be possible.

If you would like to talk to us about unearthing cultural insight, we’d love to hear from you.

Register your interest here

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