• Idea Lounge
  • The Impact of Culture on Today’s Consumers
The Impact of Culture on Today’s Consumers
The Impact of Culture on Today’s Consumers

Marketers must consider the cultural influence on the consumer and how that shapes their brand attraction. In PeerSphere by CMO Council, 2016.


We live in an era of chronic uncertainty. The 2007/2008 economic meltdown was a pivotal experience for America. While the too-big-to-fail banks were bailed out, regular Americans lost their homes, their retirement investments lost tremendous value, and the prospects for the younger generations are as bleak as they have been since before World War 2. All of this is a betrayal of the American Dream-the promise that if you work hard, you will be rewarded in the meritocracy that is America. At the same time, there has been a collapse in the authority of institutions, with events such as corporate corrup­tion, religious organizations perpetrating unspeakable crimes against innocents, and government leaders deadlocked and unable to find a way to work effectively together. Society lacks a unifying moral authority.

These experiences create two cultural forces of interest. First, “expect the unexpected” demands a constant level of readiness to deal with adversity. Secondly, “frontier logic” is based on the belief that no one will catch us if we fail (i.e., get downsized out of a job), and therefore, we are on our own as a self-sufficient family unit. Amazingly, we can observe a wide range of interesting behaviors that are cultural responses to this force, like peo­ple taking matters into their own hands instead of waiting for the institutions to lead. Take for example, the surge in entre­preneurship that has disrupted industries by “amateur professionals,” people cre­ating their own economic engines as seen in the craft beer industry, new business models like AirBnB disregarding regulato­ry frameworks and plowing forward with determination, or even yoga being used to provide a way for a secular society to practice spirituality along with fitness.

What I really think is most fascinating is the rise of the social enterprise. Philips Design suggests we are poised to exit the knowledge economy and enter the transformation economy, in which social networks come together to transform so­ciety. If you watch TED Talks, you can see social entrepreneurs seeking to change the world through organizations such as Global Citizen, Me to We and Social Cap­ital while others are embracing organiza­tional concepts such the B-Corporation and Holocracy. New organizations are being created to solve many of the world’s critical chal­lenges, in part because of a shift in values, but also because, frankly, we don’t need more stuff!


Download the piece now to get John’s answers the questions:

  • What market-sensing models, frame­works or processes need to be in place for brands to be culturally informed?
  • How does the role of large-scale social media analytics contribute to this?
  • What techniques should be employed to better connect with the mood, motivation and mindset of consumers on a sustained basis?
  • How does this translate into brand purpose and ultimately to improved brand performance or attraction?
  • Which enduring heritage brands have done the best job of staying relevant, respected and real across generations of consumers?
  • What have they done to evolve, adapt and refresh themselves?
  • Which new digital brands do you think have done the best job of acquiring con­sumer fan following and cultural connec­tivity?