Recreate: The building blocks of identity

Lodestar UM’s study Wave X Remix Culture analyses the four most influential shifts shaping the modern consumer - Resist, Retrograde, Recreate & Reglocalise

e4m by Shrikant Shenoy
Updated: Jan 14, 2020 8:50 AM
Wave X Remix Culture

This is the fourth in our six-part series on Lodestar UM’s study Wave X Remix Culture that analyses the four most influential shifts shaping the modern consumer - Resist, Retrograde, Recreate and Reglocalise. Wave X explains how these shifts also served as pillars of a framework that enable marketers to understand cultural trends and identify the territories brands should play in, audiences to target and media platforms they interact with.

Social media has brought the world to our screens, making it possible to connect with not only local contacts and influences but also family, friends, products, cultures and influences from across the world.

Wave X takes a close look at the Recreate pillar, exploring how consumers now have the power to create opportunities and lifestyles by choosing elements of culture and tradition that they like and refashioning them the way they want them to be. Brands that embrace and enable this desire for a multifaceted life will reap more bonding opportunities.

How many factors define the average Indian’s identity?

Wave identified 11.5! Wave asked people to enumerate the factors that were important in defining their identities. Rather than the expected few factors, the average Indian selected 11.5 factors as being important in shaping who they are.

Another surprise was that the factors we traditionally believe as important in defining identity like gender, social class, ethnicity and sexuality are not as important as the personal choices we make, like education, health, friendships and passions. Brands that work with these factors are more likely to be selected to play a big role in our lives. Marketers may need to relook at traditional audiences like male automobile buyers or upper-class international travellers taking these new markers of identity into account.

Within the factor “What I do in my free time/my passions” is a whole set of individual passions that play a role in defining identity, including music (which for 49% of adults is important in defining who they are), movies (a defining passion for 47%), travel (43%), technology (36%), books (36%) and social media (32%).

National pride strongly influences Indian identity

Regions in the world form natural clusters based on similar markers that define their identity. Four clusters emerge – Demographics/Beliefs, Passions, Accomplishments and Origins.

Asian countries with the most highly developed economies such as Japan and South Korea cluster closer to Europe while traditional markets cluster closer to MENA markets. Hong Kong, a developed Asian region clustered with the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany stands in contrast to Malaysia, a less developed market with a strong religious influence clustered with Nigeria, Algeria and Kenya.

India identifies strongly with national pride, putting it in a similar league with multicultural democracies like the United States. As the third-largest startup ecosystem in the world, occupation as an identity marker is not far behind. Latin American identity is rooted in one’s city, history, culture, education and age. Religion is more important in defining identity in the Middle East. Passions, friends and health are most important in Europe and developed world Asian markets.

As consumer identity is fluid and evolving, it is important for marketers to be active listeners and capitalise on trends while they are still fresh and popular. Wave spotted a few opportunities –

1. Cultural convergence

Similarities in identity markers make it possible for brands to borrow elements of popular culture and replicate from one region to another.

Movie star Aamir Khan found a ready market on Chinese shores. With box office hits like Secret Superstar, 3 Idiots, Dangal and million-plus followers on Weibo, his version of India struck a successful chord with Chinese audiences.

Though the two countries are at different points in development, viewers were impressed with the way his movies addressed common issues linked to identity like the education system.

Back home, Netflix found the winning formula by bringing Tel Aviv closer to Indian homes. Both Israel and India enjoy a mix of local culture and western influences. Depth and complexity in characters also appeal to audiences in both markets. Local adaptations of Israeli scripted shows Hostages and Prisoners of War gained quick popularity among streamers. After action thrillers, Israeli content is creating ripples with romantic comedies and dramas.

Tourism Australia is gearing up to convert a shared passion for cricket into an opportunity to woo Indian cricket fans. As host nation for the ICC T20 World Cup for Women and Men later this year, Australia expects 30K to 40K Indians to travel for the games. The ICC Cricket World Cup held in 2015 in Australia started a trend that led to arrivals from India growing at almost 16%. The campaign ‘Experience the Game and Beyond’ in partnership with ICC is targeted at Indian cricket fans, offering them a combined experience of a memorable holiday and exciting cricket.

Brands like Amul have ensured that cheese is as fiercely Indian as it is American or French. Indian-American food writer Priya Krishna describes how Amul cheese, made using milk from Indian buffaloes has a very specific flavour – richer, nuttier, a little funkier. Chef Chintan Pandya of Adda, a popular Indian restaurant in Long Island City, New York uses only Amul Cheese as any substitute like American cheddar would affect the integrity of his dishes.

2. Disruptive creativity

We know that consumers see themselves as multifaceted individuals. However, 80% of them also seek new and creative ways to express individuality. 65% are interested in trying companies that reflect a new way of doing things. Brands can play a role in consumers’ lives by enabling them to be disruptively creative.

Social platform TikTok brought a new segment of users into the socially connected fold with tools that were not only simple and non-judgmental but also delightfully different from the norm. Its playful short video format and easy user interface attracted users from Tier 2 and Tier 3 Indian cities who form most of its current user base, according to industry sources.

Our next article Reglocalise: Living in a borderless world will take a closer look at the fine balance between global reach and local connection. When it comes to satisfying our thirst for the original, local brands have the edge over global brands due to their stronger appeal to our sense of individuality and proximity of space(geography). We explore how local culture drives global culture and technology helps facilitate this natural exchange.

The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of exchange4media.com

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