DDB Mudra has launched DDB SignBank, a global trends network that aggregates small signs of social change to effectively predict cultural and behavioral shifts while assessing both the global and local impact of these societal swings.
Believed to be the largest global trends network operating out of 52 DDB offices, DDB SignBank systematically collects and orchestrates numerous signs within a sociological framework to determine why change is occurring and where it is heading. By taking a microscopic view within a globalised world, DDB SignBank combines the best of the larger trend consultancies with the smaller futurology specialists.
Madhukar Kamath, CEO and Managing Director, Mudra Communications Pvt Ltd, said, "DDB SignBank allows us to look at the entire world, but with local eyes, enabling us to uniquely build on the body of consumer knowledge we already own through fundamental consumer studies. DDB SignBank's ability to blend macro and micro findings is well suited to a client base that is local, regional and global, and is continuously searching for creative solutions to their business issues."
Originally developed by DDB Copenhagen in 2003, DDB SignBank has begun rolling out throughout the DDB Worldwide network and is now operational in more than 50 offices worldwide. DDB SignBank currently holds over 30,000 worldwide signs and is updated daily, allowing customised reports to be generated at short notice.
Eva Steensig, DDB Denmark, sociologist and global leader of DDB SignBank, said, "The sociological approach to research has rarely been used in the commercial world but, in fact, is superior to classic quantitative data and focus groups in its ability to reveal the impact of societal mechanisms on people, companies and societies and offer new perspectives and new opportunities."
Ashish Mishra, VP, Strategic Planning, Mudra, Mumbai, said, "With DDB SignBank, the focus is on what people do, instead on what they say they want to do. SignBank also looks at the actions of people throughout their daily lives as opposed to only when they are acting as consumers, because consumption takes up no more than 3 per cent of the average person's day."
Mishra added, "What's more, DDB SignBank as an approach is truly industry-cathartic as it values the much ignored sigma of our own collective observations and allows us an opportunity to realise our latent desire to understand, analyse and perhaps make a difference to the societies we live in. By inculcating an appreciation that people are not just consumers, societies are not just markets and the world is not just a limited professional stream."
Mishra further said that the DDB SignBank rollout to the eight Mudra branches as an introductory process had already identified some significant future trends that would have an impact on Indian masses. The significant ones being:
Marriages and relationships of tomorrow: Individualism coupled with legitimised hedonism and increased tolerance will significantly alter the relationships of tomorrow. To start with, marriages will be short-term and experiential in nature. Three-year marriages could be fashionable in the not-too-distant future. Emotional fidelity will be emphasised in relationships rather than physical loyalty. Multiple partners and multiple relations could be widely rampant and accepted. Moreover, sexuality will be a non-issue and many cosmopolitan minds will be comfortable with the 'drifting sexuality' syndrome.
'Mad rush to groom kids to be dream adults that their parents couldn't be' will change to an overwhelming notion of letting the kids be kids: From teaching ABCs to unborn babies and desperation to capitalise on opportunities for their kids, the pattern of parenting will change from function-driven roles to role-bound functions. There will be a let-up in the expectations with greater allowance for the kid's individuality and interests. Etiquette schools will become necessary to overcome the brashness, intolerance and boredom of the current and future generations. Gradually some traditional methods of education like storytelling may replace TV viewing.
Bright career girls will throw it all away to be a home-maker: The social structures of old will strike back with a vengeance. Joint families will rapidly replace nuclear ones. Seeing the futility of needlessly competing in a man's world, women will spurn corporate careers to become better mothers and more capable housewives, albeit with a dominant role in the family. It will also herald a rising against the corporate rat race – thus leading people to opt out of high-flying corporate careers. Thus, they will have more time on their hands to indulge in more leisurely pursuits like various hobbies and social services.
Future living: Retreat living with professional breaks will be the new lifestyle. Work will become the thing that one would do during leisure breaks; enabled by a shift to 'talent' based jobs from 'skill' based ones. Townships will be preferred by people already showing signs of choosing their neighbours. Cities, thus, will become clusters of aligned villages, facilitating like-minded people to live together. Cult, class, interest and spirituality-led communities will be the real bases of alignment rather than caste and religion.
Workplaces of the future: Floating companies will be popular as like-minded individuals will form small teams to pursue their entrepreneurial ambitions. Such companies will be responsible for driving the growth of customised solutions. Moreover, working from home will be en vogue, and office-less corporations will become a natural consequence of these in-home offices. Traditional corporate office space will also give way to housing only the basic manufacturing and the warehousing facilities with the rest of the streams being outsourced.
Role reversals of tomorrow: Women will rear fatherless families, as societies would turn matriarchal in nature. The man-woman chemistry will be an outcome of personal choice and not of the social roles that were traditionally ascribed to the genders. With the advent of tailor-made babies, choicest donors and sperm banks, life sciences and bio-technology will become integral to the way Indians will live.
The future of the marketplace: It'll be either masstige (mass prestige) brands or cult brands and very little in between. Virtual hypermarkets will be the place where virtual salesmen, customized product windows and personalized ambience will deliver a more convenient experience along with smarter decision-making. The phenomena of spontaneous spending will give way to maturity and sensible saving, investing and spending.
Steensig said, "SignBank has tremendous predictive powers." In Europe, it already has resulted in various new assignments in innovative product development. As Bill Bernbach said, "At the heart of an effective creative philosophy is the belief that nothing is so powerful as an insight into human nature: what compulsions drive a man, what instincts dominate his action, even though his language so often camouflages what really motivates him."
Mishra said, "SignBank (in India) has helped in unearthing fresh and compelling consumer perspectives with corroborative knowledge from the region and the West. This has surely played a role in our dozen-odd new business wins last year and even helped in creating a consumer connect with the theme of 'Slow Down' as a TV commercial for MTDC – one of these recently acquired businesses. In future, raw signs will not only form a fundamental part while designing a brand's strategy, it will also help understand the fresh and insightful nuances of our local markets to enable effective and appealing communication solutions for our clients in India and the region."