For decades North American culture has been the one we have looked up to, reflecting their values and cultural trends on ourselves. With recent developments however, it seems as though this relationship may be coming under unbearable strain, and perhaps it’s time to look for alternatives with which we can reflect ourselves.
If we look towards the east and consider China as the new superpower with which to associate ourselves with, we can think of both advantages and disadvantages. On one side, there is an obvious Nation-brand problem due to the negative connotations of “made-in-China” . Or think about the fact that their culture, unlike our own, is grounded in rationality and an indifference towards the emotional . It is also steeped in secrecy and prohibitions …not very attractive, right? To become cultural partners, it is not enough to just benefit each other economically. Despite the fact that the relationship seems unlikely due to the geographical and cultural distances between the two, the fact that China is willing to connect to Mexico –unlike the U.S.A. , as well as the bond we have built with other Asian countries like for example, Japan, suggests that distances can be overcome.
Or, what if, as Evo Morales  suggests, we look to the south to help build our cultural identity? The region has a history of oppression and exploitation , which is perhaps the reason why we consider them more as potential partners than as rivals. Peru has become something of a reference point as to how a country can re-build its identity using cultural drivers like food and creativity to reconstruct its image – and it has not gone unnoticed in Mexico. The challenge is to build a positive Latin-American image beyond that of its three pillars: Food, tourism and football – whilst managing to dispel the ghost of the fourth and most damaging one – violence. 
A third option is one of introspective reflection, to look within. However, this tactic of promoting national pride that has been pushed since the 70s just isn’t cutting it anymore. Apart from being criticized for its political implications  it doesn’t fit with the image that Mexicans wish to project about themselves, one of a modern and cosmopolitan society. Many studies around the world have confirmed that we gain more satisfaction from a global ideal that everyone can relate to; than to base our sense of self solely on our own unique qualities , and Mexico is no exception to this rule. As opposed to our old way of thinking, we have drifted out of our mellow nostalgia and xenophobia and are now very much standing with minds open to embracing the world and all it has to offer as well as proudly projecting our own culture outwards.
Instead of the dependency of looking towards another culture to form the basis of our own, the future is to develop the ability to blend the best bits of many different cultures to enrich our own. There is no reason why the search should be confined to just China and South America; in fact, it is this very process of exploration that will provide the diversity we crave when looking to build the future of Mexico and its brands.
The key for brands then, is to embrace this narrative and to expand our search for cultural reference points beyond those with which we have become accustomed. For example, we have analysed to death the success stories of Airbnb or Netflix, but what can we learn from similarly successful brands coming out of Asia? Viki – which relies on user-generated subtitles for soap operas from in Singapore, Tokyo and Seoul  capitalised on the world’s fascination with Asian soaps and dramas and removed the main barrier to consumption – the language barrier, by inviting users to provide the translations for them. Or what about OYO Rooms , who realised how unorganized the affordable hotel room sector was in India, and became a hit by creating a slick and easy to use app which modernized the booking process for consumers.
Mexican brands can learn a lot from these simple solutions to business problems that revolutionized their industries through innovation . This vision of an inclusive, cosmopolitan Mexico goes way beyond just looking towards its North American neighbour. To just consider our immediate neighbours closes us off from the rest of the world and prevents us from taking advantage of, and learning from, new and disruptive cultures.
Content created by High Speed Solutions. High Speed Solutions is the Strategic Consulting area of De la Riva Group.
(1) Volodzko, D. (2015) How Made in China Became a Stigma. The Diplomat. http://thediplomat.com/2015/07/how-made-in-china-became-a-stigma/
(2) Lindstrom, M. (2016) Small Data: Las pequeñas pistas que revelan grandes tendencias. Paidós.
(3) Denyer, S.(2016) China’s scary lesson to the world: censoring the Internet works. The Washington Post. goo.gl/OP1ckN
(4) De la Riva Group (2017) México Rifado 2: Narrativa México. En desarrollo.
(5) Morales. E. (@evoespueblo) Hago un llamado a nuestros Hnos mexicanos a mirar más al sur; construir juntos unidad en base a nuestra identidad latinoamericana y caribeña”26 ene 2017 11:10 am. Tweet.
(6) Galeano, E (1971) Las venas abiertas de América Latina. Siglo Veintiuno
(7) Kadner, M (2017) El deporte, la marca país más reconocida en América Latina. El País. http://internacional.elpais.com/internacional/2017/02/08/america/1486515551_856117.html
(8) Raphael, R. (2016) El peligroso espejismo de la unidad. El Universal. http://www.eluniversal.com.mx/entrada-de-opinion/columna/ricardo-raphael/nacion/2017/02/9/el-peligroso-espejismo-de-la-unidad#.WJxr5vLC6aQ.twitter
(9) McFarland, S., Webb, M., & Brown, D. (2012). All humanity is my ingroup: A measure and studies of identification with all humanity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
(10) Viki Inc., www.viki.com
(12) Devang, Kruse, Parker & Siren (2016) The Next Wave of Business Models in Asia. MIT Winter Magazine 2017. http://sloanreview.mit.edu/article/the-next-wave-of-business-models-in-asia/
It’s no great secret that we all seek success and hide from failure but what often escapes our notice are the potential pitfalls that lie, obscured from view, like a dormant beast lurking in the shadows of our own success. You may ask, “But what could wrong if my business far exceeded expectations upon launch?” or “If I’ve been doing this for years and so far so good – what do I have to worry about?”
It’s time to think about the future of industries that have traditionally always been healthy yet now find themselves under threat. What will happen to boxed cereals or “pan dulce” in households where mothers are beginning to become more aware of the dangers of sugar to the health of their children? What’s going to happen to the auto parts industry with the commercialization of 3D printing technology? The danger lies in the assumption that past sales will always equate to future ones.
There are three early warning signs to look out for when assessing whether or not you may fall victim to your own success.
a)Rapid Evolution. In todays market place the urgent desire for rapid growth often outweighs sustainable or incremental growth. When things go very well, very quickly, it can be difficult to fulfil the increase in demand caused by such sudden success.
b)Inertia. Allowing ourselves to become trapped in a spiral of daily tasks and work just to fulfil demand, leaves little room for reflection. If fulfilling demand consumes all of our energy and daily thought; then it’s harder to see what’s on the horizon and to adapt to future challenges brought about by a changing market place.
c)The potential problems that can arise from an inflation of the ego. Allowing oneself to feel superior to the competition and immune from threat due to a market position as leader can be dangerous territory. We begin to lose focus on the things that got us to where we are today – innovation, better products and services and customer service.
So how can we avoid it?
1. By knowing one’s self. For the Greeks, the importance of self-knowledge was regarded as more important than taking care of oneself. There are many ways of exercising this ancient belief: Regularly carrying out introspective analysis exercises, evaluating ourselves at the end of each day, future scenario modelling exercises where we map out best and worst case scenarios for our companies, all help to prevent situations like what happened to Vine (which ended up being liquidated by parent Instagram). In their case they failed to detail an effective business model set against the needs of their consumers, without any human-centred design planning or a way to monetize their product, the once massive brand ended up on the scrap heap. 
2. By surrounding ourselves with honest partners who aren’t afraid to tell us the truth, and by being open to listening to them. Finding trusted people who can act as mirrors we can use to hold up against ourselves, and reflect back things about who are, whilst potentially a painful exercise, will ensure we remain grounded in reality. At Nokia, they did not promote a culture of transparency and communication within the executive structure. This eventually led to disaster when those lower down the chain of command didn’t inform those above them of huge delays in the development of the operating system, causing chaos when orders were met . Had they promoted better communication they may have been able to manage expectations and prevent embarrassment, rather than sleep walking into disaster.
3. This last example leads nicely onto our third recommendation, that is, ensuring to promote fluidity and transparency within the organizational structure of a company. Migrating to a model where those at the top have a greater grasp of operations below them, and where those below feel able, and have the means to, communicate issues with those above them does three great things for you: It ensures a healthier operation all the way through the business, it equips a business to deal and react to change and it help prevents disasters in the long term.
Content by High Speed Solutions. High Speed Solutions is the Strategic Consulting area of De la Riva Group.
(1) Focault, Michael. (1990) Tecnologías del Yo. Paidós. España.
(2) Newton, Casey (2016) Why Vine died. The Verge. Retrieved from: http://www.theverge.com/2016/10/28/13456208/why-vine-died-twitter-shutdown
(3) Huy, Quy (2015) Who killed Nokia? Nokia did. Insead. Retrieved from: http://knowledge.insead.edu/strategy/who-killed-nokia-nokia-did-4268
Or how to investigate what people really want and operate in order to be more efficient.
Why don’t we save for our retirement? Why do we not eat healthy or exercise more? All of this is explained if we understand the basic principles of behavioral economics. Here are the 10 basic things that you should know about a social discipline with far-reaching insights and why it matters to you if you work in marketing or research.
1. We do not always do what’s best for us. The Behavioral Economics premise is simple: economical theories had for years assumed that people are rational agents that look to maximize utility and benefits when making decisions. There is proof that in reality, we tend to evaluate options based on cognitive shortcuts that favor the emotional.
2. We are more unpredictable than what we think we are. If humans were 100% rational; just evaluating options with a list of pros and cons, promising to do something and actually doing it, etc, then our behavior would be much more predictable and problems such as obesity or climate change would be easier to attack.
3. We make decisions based on emotions. Most of the decisions we make on a daily basis such as tax payment, donations to NGOs, what brand to choose or how we use a new product, are actually related to what is socially accepted, as well as our aversion to losses or what’s gratifying in the short term (1).
4. We are irrational beings. And not because we are stubborn, but because we are efficient. When we evaluate based on the affective we do it in a faster and automatic way (this is what Daniel Kahneman, Nobel Prize winner in the field of economics calls System One in his Dual System Theory) (2) It is only when feelings fail on us, that we activate the reflexive judgment (System Two, the slower one).
5. Our consumptions are irrational. Behavioral Economics originated from an academic context, but lessons from the field are increasingly being applied to public policies, marketing and advertising (3,4). For instance, brand value is much more irrational than rational. When we understand this, it sounds logical that brand presence increases purchase intention by 390% (5)
6. B.E. contributes with new methodologies to really understand what consumers want. Consumers tend to respond in a rational way during focus groups and online questionnaires. Changing research methodologies to a more spontaneous, more irrational paradigm will let us observe interesting differences between what people say they want and what they actually want (6)
7. Its global application has come to the fore. In 2015, Barack Obama gave the executive order to use B.E. in government departments to improve the life of citizens (7). A myriad of laboratories where their theoretical and practical principles are applied, emerge; Linexx in Valencia, Irrational Agency & Ogilvy Change in London or The Mexican Institute of Behavioral Economics (8) are proof of it.
8. It is mainly used to:
• Analyze the impact of new strategies of sustainable businesses.
• Improve design
• Anticipate failures in the implementation of disruptive experiences or products.
9. Hundreds of initiatives realize the positive uses B.E. can have in the world. Understanding why people do what they do and leverage on theoretical background to change negative behaviors sounds as socially beneficial as it sounds Machiavellian – however, positive manifestations are increasingly more. Take for instance, the emergency of start-ups in the social innovation area:
-Save for Tomorrow is an initiative to increase people’s retirement savings
-Stikk is an app that helps you accomplish your personal goal based on BE insights
10. Its application becomes more compelling than ever before, mainly due to:
a) The imperative need to modify socially damaging habits such as energy waste or bad eating habits.
b) A lot of money is wasted in ingenious innovations that at the end no one ends up using.
Content developed by High Speed Solutions. High Speed Solutions is the Strategic Consultancy Area of De la Riva Group
(1) Pfarr, N. (2016) Diseñando para incentivar. Manual de Economía del Comportamiento Volumen 2. Comportamiento del Consumidor. Instituto Nacional de Economía del Comportamiento.
(2) The Economist (2011). Not so smart now. Human Decision-Making. Retrieved from: http://www.economist.com/node/21534752
(3) Del Valle, C. (2016) Conocer mejor al consumidor: adios intuición, hola Economía del Comportamiento. En Manual de Economía del Comportamiento Volumen 2. Comportamiento del Consumidor. Instituto Nacional de Economía del Comportamiento.
(4) Hodges, J. (2016) Más allá de lo académico: cómo la psicología ha sido adoptada en la publicidad y la comunicación. En Manual de Economía del Comportamiento Volumen 2. Comportamiento del Consumidor. Instituto Nacional de Economía del Comportamiento.
(5) Barden, P. ( 2016) Las marcas como marcos. En Manual de Economía del Comportamiento Volumen 2. Comportamiento del Consumidor. Instituto Nacional de Economía del Comportamiento.
(6) Caldwell, L. & Seear L. (2016). Behavioural Economics gets real. Probably the largest implicit market study in history, for one of the world’s best known brands. ESOMAR. Conference Papers. Congress 2016. New Orleans 18-21 September.
(7) White House (2015) Executive Order – Using Behavioral Science Insights to Better Serve the American People. Retrieved from https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/09/15/executive-order-using-behavioral-science-insights-better-serve-american
(8) Díaz, E. & Del Valle, C. Editores (2016). Manual de Economía del Comportamiento. Volumen 2. Comportamiento del Consumidor. Instituto Nacional de Economía del Comportamiento. http://www.ecomportamiento.org/
(9) Benartzi, S. (2011) Saving more tomorrow. Ted Talk. Retrieved from: https://www.ted.com/talks/shlomo_benartzi_saving_more_tomorrow
(10) EY. Building a Better Working World (2016) The upside of disruption Megatrends shaping 2016 and beyond. Retrieved from https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/09/15/executive-order-using-behavioral-science-insights-better-serve-american
The folders on our desktops are full of documents and blogs about trends, and since a few years ago we’ve seen more and more of them focused on the “ageing population”. We’ve seen so many of these reports that perhaps they have begun to lose their meaning. “Yes, yes, I know, thanks to medicine the population grows ever older, heard it all before, tell me something I don’t know”.
Well, if we were to double click on some of these reports, we’d see the oldest sector of the world population is by no means the stereotype we have made them out to be. Our contemporary societies continue to glorify the youth and pigeon hole our seniors as hostile, grumpy, intolerable, weak or sick. Without actively meaning to do so we as companies, as brands, as a societies as whole even, are discarding the importance of this sector prematurely. Even economists have their dependency ratio model, which basically states that prior to the age of 65 you contribute to the economy, and after this age you merely detract from it.
However, the power of active minorities as catalysts for new ways of thinking and for change, have been the focus of sociological research for years. Yet whether or not we consider seniors as a minority group, or whether we discriminate against them as marketeers, what can’t be denied is the power of the senior vote and the influence it has had in shaping the world today. Cited as huge factors behind the success of Brexit and Trump’s presidency, they have dispelled the notion that they have no voice quite spectacularly.
Whilst they have managed to dismiss the notion that they have no voice, their contribution to these political movements has done little to dispel their billing as burdens to society. The challenge of the older generations then, is to recuperate their forgotten status as accumulators of wisdom, as relics to be cherished, and to transcend their symbols of death and extinction.
We are currently witnessing the effects of this intergenerational clash and the attempts from both sides to reconcile the fractured and withered relationship. We are seeing it manifested more and more in different ways: like the insistence from the over 50s for fair hiring, or the growing trend of young people looking to lodge with older housemates, being but a couple of examples.
The time has come for companies to find some common ground between generations, to include seniors within their teams, and to communicate it so that everyone knows about it. The benefits of doing so could be huge, with both young and old people looking for some common ground and a reason to be optimistic. This presents exciting and fertile territory for brand communication that could reach across the generational divide and have an impact on both sides.
In marketing we are taught to look beyond just our immediate sphere of influence and consider the dangers of outsiders or smaller players who could one day eat away at our market position. However, what isn’t as readily discussed, is why we have a fixation with certain targets, namely Millennials, whilst ignoring others, like the ageing population, who can turn out to have a much greater influence than we perhaps ever thought. In this ever changing world where the trend is to “produce trends” we also face the danger of ignoring them, keep that in mind!
Content by High Speed Solutions. High Speed Solutions is the Strategic Consulting area of De la Riva Group.
Further Reading :
• (1) Campbell, C (2014) Community mobilisation in the 21st century: Updating our theory of social change? Journal Health Psychology. http://hpq.sagepub.com/content/early/2013/09/02/1359105313500262.abstract
• (2) Charlan Jeanne Nemeth. (2010). “Minority Influence Theory.” IRLE Working Paper No. 218-10. http://irle.berkeley.edu/workingpapers/218-10.pdf
• (3) Dawn, G (2014) How old People will decide your future. Retreived November 19th, 2016 from: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/10/17/how-older-voters-will-decide-your-future.html
• (4) De la Riva (2016) Estudio Sindicado: “Consumer Trends Grey Market”
• (5) Forbes Staff (Ed.). (2014, March 17). Millenials, Baby Boomers y Generación X: La combinación perfecta. Retrieved November 23, 2016, from http://www.forbes.com.mx/millennials-baby-boomers-y-generacion-x-la-combinacion-perfecta/#gs.W6O0oN8
• (6) Little, W. (n.d.). Chapter 13. Aging and the Elderly. In Introduction to Sociology. 1st Canadian Edition. BC Campus Open Ed.
• (7) Lutz, W. (2014, January). The truth about Aging Populations. Harvard Business Review.
• (8) Molly, B. (2016, October 25). Trump’s Graying Army. Retrieved from http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/10/trumps-graying-army/505274/
• (9) Whitely, P., & Clark, H. D. (2016, June 26). Brexit: Why did older voters choose to Leave the EU? Retrieved November 23, 2016, from http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/brexit-why-did-old-people-vote-leave-young-voters-remain-eu-referendum-a7103996.html
Today is a good day. The sun is shining, the birds are sweetly singing their songs of freedom and everything seems right in the world. Then suddenly, BANG, your whole world gets turned upside. Things haven’t quite turned out as you had planned.
“But how is this possible if all the indicators seemed to confirm my happy projections?”
The bombardment of information we are subjected to on a daily basis makes it impossible to absorb everything, forcing us to be become selective as to what we read and assimilate. The problem is that we tend to read that which makes sense to us, and we forget or simply ignore that which doesn’t. But why do we do this? Psychologists attribute it to a kind of cognitive shortcut called ‘Confirmation Bias’ where the brain filters through information that supports our belief systems and blocks out anything that contradicts them. Even the algorithms behind what we see on our Facebook and Twitter feeds run on the same principals; they show us what we like, what we are likely to engage with and hide the rest. We instinctively look for facts to confirm what we already believe and we omit the facts that don’t, the facts which would actually be a lot more helpful for us in enabling us to distinguish the woods from the trees.
Why, when we see things that don’t support our predetermined beliefs, do we feel them almost as offensive and as personal betrayals against us? Two primordial reasons:
1) With every day that passes on this earth, we as humans look for more and more reference points from which to anchor ourselves; helping us find meaning and to feel a part of something. When these reference points crumble away, failing to explain reality and revealing themselves to be false, we feel betrayed and stupid – anyone who has ever fallen foul to a conman or scam will know the feeling.
2) When we share information or vocalize certain opinions about the world, what we are actually doing is constructing and projecting an image of ourselves before the world, our own “brand equity” of sorts. When these views are exposed as false, or things transpire which actively contradict our viewpoint, then it is the credibility our very identity, of who we are as people, that comes under scrutiny as well. Nothing hurts more than a blow to our pride.
So how do we face this egomaniacal sense of self, inherent to us all? Well, a good place to start is to open ourselves up to the unknown. To open our hearts, minds, arms and eyes to those who do not think like us, to those who we feel we have nothing to gain from and with whom we have nothing in common. To go beyond our daily routine, to leave the big cities and turn instead towards the rural and underdeveloped (or whatever other environment is alien to us); and above all else, to make sure we are open to listening to the answers that we don’t want to hear when we do so.
We could just do it ourselves through introspective reflection, forcing our eyes inwardly to focus in on that which we don’t want to see.
However, far easier an exercise, is to involve other people, but not in a fishing trip to the compliment-pond kind of way; but rather, by forcing them to be as critical as possible.
All of this will allow us to produce diverse strategic scenarios. It is not enough to focus on actions for what we thing is coming but for alternative scenarios that require the attention of our work teams.
Content by High Speed Solutions. High Speed Solutions is the Strategic Consulting area of De la Riva Group.
• Caparroz, M. (2011, November 11). El año en que chocamos con nosotros mismos. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/es/2016/11/11/el-ano-en-que-chocamos-con-nosotros-mismos/
• Eco, U., Miralles, H. L., & Irazazábal, M. P. (2016). De la estupidez a la locura: Crónica para el futuro que nos espera. Barcelona: Lumen.
• How our perception influences our beliefs. (n.d.). Retrieved November 15, 2016, from http://theunboundedspirit.com/how-our-perception-influences-our-beliefs/
• Keegan, J. (2016, May 18). Blue Feed, Red Feed. Retrieved from http://graphics.wsj.com/blue-feed-red-feed/
• Little, J. R. (2016, November 14). US election and Brexit learnings for Marketers – Get out while you can. Retrieved from https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/us-election-brexit-get-out-while-you-can-jr-little?trk=hp-feed-article-title-channel-add
• Suárez, G. (2016, November 7). “Bauman: “En el mundo actual todas las ideas de felicidad acaban en una tienda” Retrieved from http://www.elmundo.es/papel/lideres/2016/11/07/58205c8ae5fdeaed768b45d0.html
• Williams, J. C. (2016, November 10). What So Many People Don’t Get About the U.S. Working Class. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2016/11/what-so-many-people-dont-get-about-the-u-s-working-class
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