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How To Authentically Show Up In Cultural Spaces.

Brands today desire cultural relevance for deeper resonance with their target audiences. We've shared tips on how to genuinely embed within cultural contexts and a look into who is leading best practices.

1. Understanding Your Consumer's Culture

Understanding customer culture is essential for successful collaborations and campaigns. It enables brands to integrate consumer preferences and demographics effectively.

Case Study: Nike recognises that Gen Z makes up almost half of their sales and thus focuses on catering to the trends and culture that this demographic values, including streetwear and comfort, which the brand already advocates for.

Outcome: A successful collaboration with "Corteiz X Nike"

Corteiz has gained popularity among Gen Z due to its highly anticipated clothing drops. Despite their name potentially infringing on Nike's trademark, Nike decided to embrace the streetwear culture by collaborating with Corteiz to release a limited edition line of Corteiz X Nike trainers, which quickly sold out within a week.

However, let's examine when attempts to cross cultures fail to 'land' with consumers.

Consequences can occur when brands fail to execute embracing consumer culture properly. Partnerships can receive mixed emotions from the public and result in negative aftermath.

Tiffany & co X Nike

Nike's target audience doesn't typically gravitate towards luxury jewellery. A partnership between a sportswear and apparel company and a luxury goods brand may not be a seamless fit. Tiffany's is renowned for its association with opulence and sophistication, whereas Nike focuses on promoting urban style.

Outcome: The collaboration has received mixed reactions from consumers, with some expressing doubts and not showing enthusiasm for its launch. As a result, the trainers quickly went out of stock only to be resold by others.

2. Culture Shifting

Staying current with cultural trends is essential for brand success. It helps brands engage with cultural spaces and remain relevant.

Case study: Mattel's' "Barbie"

Throughout time, Mattel has kept Barbie relevant as they've been sensitive to the cultural landscape of the times. In the 60s, Barbie represented a call to traditional femininity through what was occurring in society and the generational chain. As times kept moving, Barbie kept adapting, which is why we know her today as more inclusive, diverse and the embodiment of girl power.

Outcome: Mattel successfully updated and modernised its classic doll through extensive marketing efforts, turning her into a highly influential figure. The resulting Barbie Movie was a blockbuster hit, generating billions in ticket sales.

3. Embracing History

Brands must build a purpose that transcends a basis in race, ethnicity, politics or religion and fully grasp its history to connect culturally.

Case study: The relationship between cognac and Black culture is longstanding. Cognac was embraced by a country that appreciated and respected Black culture, and Hennessy was one of the first luxury brands to recognise the connection between African Americans and the spirit. In the 1950s, Hennessy made a bold move by featuring Black models in ads in popular African American magazines. This authentic engagement with the Black community has earned Hennessy a loyal following that cannot be bought with money.

Outcome: Nas X Hennessy "HenNASsy"

The Hennessy V.S bottle has a unique edition design that embodies the "never stop, never settle" spirit of Hip Hop and Hennessy on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Hip Hop.

Despite being established in 1765, Hennessy has always maintained its name. However, as the saying goes, there is always a first time for everything.

4. Engaging Influential Voices

Partnering with influencers from various cultural backgrounds is one of the most effective ways to build relationships with specific diverse communities, facilitating;

  • Showing up authentically through a trusted advocate in the community

  • Deeper consumer relatability

  • Reaching new audiences

  • Increased credibility

5. Be A Solution To a Problem

Often, identifying issues within communities and offering solutions is a means for brands to establish a cultural connection with underrepresented groups.

Case Study: Many commonly spoken languages have not yet been transcribed or digitised, which puts native languages at risk of disappearing. One example is the Pulaar language spoken by over 40 million people in the Fulani Tribe of West Africa, which has never been written before and was in danger of being lost.

Outcome: The Barry Brothers have teamed up with Microsoft to create an ADLaM Display, which is a digital version of the Pulaar language alphabet. The aim is to preserve the culture and increase literacy by connecting with the community.

Numerous brands have demonstrated how to effectively connect with cultural spaces by integrating their principles into various aspects of their operations. This involves tackling community concerns, devising remedies, and driving sales. Nevertheless, the key lies in comprehending how to execute it appropriately.

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