Cultural insight leads to business growth

The Challenge

Liveminds recently worked with global market research consultancy, Kantar Futures, to help their client, AkzoNobel, the world’s largest paint manufacturer, to create a global repository of cultural insight to underpin their consumer, category and brand understanding.

This was an exciting project as the client was keen to amplify the cultural context in which they deliver their message and meet their objectives. The challenge was to create a replicable, scalable process that could give comparable insights across a range of markets globally. Cultural insight for individual markets was the first focus, then, over time, they hoped to learn about the great commonalities and meaningful differences across markets

The Solution

AkzoNobel was keen to accelerate market growth in China, the chosen pilot area, by understanding how to increase painting frequency among consumers. Objectives existed at two levels: the global overview and the national market level.

Part 1 – Cultural insights overview

The Futures Company used its extensive proprietary data resource, desk research and expert interviews to develop themes that were then explored by culturally connected trendspotters based in local markets. A set of hypotheses were developed in relation to the potential impact of cultural differences on AkzoNobel’s business. These areas of enquiry were then further explored via online qualitative research.

Part 2 – Developing a deeper understanding

Liveminds was chosen to develop a prolonged online engagement with consumers. This included honing in on relevant topics and giving participants a variety of engaging daily tasks to complete online over a week-long period. These were variously written, spoken to camera or involved showing us their homes through mobile video clips and still images.

The Results

Online qual allowed the client to listen with a new level of intimacy to consumers’ personal thoughts and aspirations. The results were spectacular. The client could see, with their own eyes, the compelling cultural themes of balance and harmony, the importance of family and societal pressure in consumers’ lives.

Theories about how consumers think and behave were reassessed and the client was able to tailor its communications strategy accordingly. The findings challenged previously held assumptions about the Chinese market and revealed fresh insight into shifting cultural views that led to new directions for the AkzoNobel digital content team.

Amy Tomkins
Truthfully, although we are expert qualitative researchers in live situations, we did not expect to achieve this level of insight by being in the room with our respondents. Given the challenges surrounding freedom of expression in China, communicating online facilitated a much more insightful and revealing dialogue. In other markets too, the benefits of an online approach have been realised, as consumers have proved to be more reflective on their own culture when given the time and space to commit their thoughts to a forum post, rather than being put on the spot in a face-to-face interview. Amy Tomkins
Kantar Futures
Bill Marshall
The innovative approach taken by The Futures Company and Liveminds has yielded truly great results; it is embedded into our strategic business planning cycle, is fuelling content for our website development and is now acting as a catalyst for brand and innovation development. Bill Marshall
Global Director of Insight, AkzoNobel

The changes in how AkzoNobel market their products have been well received at the local level and AkzoNobel have already seen a growth in business in this key market. The project has powerfully demonstrated the value that cultural insight can bring to AkzoNobel’s business and enabled them to develop better marketing strategies. Subsequent work in Europe and India has greatly influenced communications and innovation planning. Consequently, Insight has now become the foundation of AkzoNobel’s global digital content strategy.


Online Qual

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