Web thinktank-international.blogspot.com

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Slideshare presentation: 10 lessons youth brands can learn from street art

At Thinktank we have had numerous projects on young people and youth culture around the world. As you can imagine, street art has been an integral part of young people's lives.

So we thought we could share our thinking and put together a powerpoint deck on lessons that youth brands can learn from the street art world.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Monday, November 05, 2012

10 things marketers need to know about Russia: fair trade, cash, mobile and market research

This is the last blog post in our '10 things about Russia' series. To read the previous 6 insights, please click here.

#7 Fair trade? Never even heard of it!
Russia is also unusual in having had an imperial, but no obvious colonial past. So the whole concept of Fair Trade and concerns or ‘liberal guilt’ about conditions in the developing world are often quite muted. This means that ethical or environmental claims tend to be missed or even misunderstood by many consumers.

#8 Russians buy in different ways.
It would be easy to assume that living in a G8 country with a fairly high GDP per capita income would mean that people had bank accounts and be used to online payments, but... as always Russia has its own way. The financially unstable 1990s and a number of bank collapses long undermined people's trust in financial institutions. Even in 2012 Russia remains a cash or digital cash economy on a day-to-day basis.

People can pay cash for anything - including property and luxury cars. Online transactions are still more of an exception rather than a rule. Online shops will deliver products by courier, who collect the cash from customers.

#9 Money on the other hand is more mobile.
The underdeveloped banking system also means that mobile payments (by texting and using stored value cards) are more common and more sophisticated than they are in many Western markets.

Strong WiMax networks and free WiFi in most places also mean that the mobile Internet and mobile marketing are more advanced.

#10 Not the easiest consumer to study.
Russians - culturally - were never asked for their opinion. Russia is still not a market where consumers will easily ‘play the game’ and speak effortlessly about their feelings about products or brands, setting aside the rational answers that can sometimes frustrate research buyers.

For this reason, marketers need to be mindful of how they approach research, whom they target and what the best format for exploring a brand or campaign idea is. That’s where we come in.

We hope you enjoyed our 10 things that marketers should know about Russia. Hopefully it is no longer a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Friday, November 02, 2012

Movember at Thinktank: permission, masculinity and brands of course

Movember is surely one of the great campaigns of recent years. It has engaged consumers throughout the country, got them participating (with their face no less) and made great use of social media. It has become a campaign that other brands want to be part of too. Just look at Gillette, HP Sauce and Byron jumping in to lend their support.

For the next month I will look a fool but everyone will know what I'm doing. They'll also know what I'm doing it for. Prostate cancer awareness should be the brief of nightmares for marketers. Getting men to think about their health is hard enough, let alone their intimate health when it doesn't directly affect their sexual prospects.

Movember's success is built on great insights about men. It plays on young men's desire for permission to test conventions but in the safe confines of a herd in much the same way as stag do fancy dress. Competitive facial hair growing plays on man's desire to measure his masculinity and compare it to his friends'. The moustache itself also comes with so many great nostalgic connotations; Magnum PI, Goose and Daley Thompson were 80's alpha male heroes. Finally, the timing is smart, taking one of the grimmest months of the year and turning it into something fun.

This year I am taking part in Movember. If you'd like to sponsor me that would be lovely. http://mobro.co/andycooper5

Andy, day 1 

Labels: , , , , , ,

10 things marketers need to know about Russia: conspicuous consumption, lifestages and Russian TV

Today we continue to publish 10 things marketers need to know about Russia. You can read the first 3 insights if you follow this link.

#4 Russians consume conspicuously.
As in many developing markets, attitudes to consumerism are less conflicted than those in the West. It is important to remember that Russians did not have the pleasures of consumerist societies for over 70 years, so aren’t apologetic or self-deprecating about material success and aspirations: if you've got it, flaunt it! So should luxury brands try to be more understated? Of course not!

#5 Young lifestages are very different.
In Russia, fitting consumers into life stages can be trickier. ‘Gap years’ do not exist and most students live with their parents when they go to university. People tend to move in together, get married and have kids much earlier than in the West. Meanwhile, in a booming economy, careers can progress very rapidly, meaning social standing can be hard to pin down. So a 25 year old can be a CFO - and be just as likely to be single as to have three kids.

#6 Young Russians rarely watch TV.
If you think it is tricky to target youth in the UK – it’s even harder in Russia. Local terrestrial schedules there are heavily dominated by government propaganda, TV remains analogue and is widely pitched at an older, mainstream audience. This means that to not have a TV is now a hip lifestyle choice, and young Russians (especially the affluent and educated urban audience) tend to say goodbye to their TV sets willingly. Besides, with piracy being far more prevalent and monetized than it is in the West, the most popular TV shows and films are easily accessed online.

Labels: , , , , ,

Thursday, November 01, 2012

10 things marketers need to know about Russia: brand new world, Moscow and tough competition

Russia has been 'open for business' for over 20 years and the iron curtain is long gone. But even now it is often seen as a bit of a mystery – with its own alphabet and opaque political structure.

In this context, it’s easy to turn a blind eye to the differences, find the most obvious common denominator and wishfully think that Russia (and especially Moscow) is nevertheless 'a bit like Europe'.

Konstantin Pinaev, our Moscow-born Head of Co-creation at Thinktank, put together a list of 10 things that marketers should keep in mind when they think about Russia. The first three insights are published in our blog today.

#1 Russians are still in a brand new world.
Brands in the way we understand them in the West did not exist in Russia until the early 1990s. A tranche of consumers still remember the days when there were no ads or brands.

That means that the picture has yet to settle; the brand universe is far more dynamic, heritage is often slender and reputations are easily lost and won. What’s more, the consumer is more fickle and harder to hold on to.

#2 Moscow is another country.
It’s fair to say that London is not the UK; New York is not the US and Paris is not France. It would be even fairer to say that Moscow is not Russia.

Here the differences really are huge: income levels are multiple times higher and habits and media consumption are nothing like the rest of the country.

#3 Don’t underestimate local competitors.
You’ll also be surprised by just how strong local champions can be.

What’s the most popular search engine? It’s Yandex (Google is way behind).
What is the most popular social network? It’s ‘VKontakte’ (‘in contact’). Facebook is not even the second – it is way behind ‘Odnoklassniki’ (‘Classmates’).

Labels: , , , , ,

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Britain 2.0: Mary Boris Poppins and other results of London 2012

The Greatest Show on Earth is now over, London is back to normal (tube closures, traffic and moaning are here again!). We can now look back at 16 days in the spotlight and the effect that it had on the image of the city.

To do this we hit the streets of London with a series short qualitative interviews about how the 2012 Olympics changed the city and its image. To live up to the second part of our name (Thinktank International) we also looked overseas - holding a one hour ThinkOut Session (an online video conference discussion using Google Hangout) with Russian speakers, a mix of those who have or haven't been to London. All of them followed the Olympics 2012 on TV and are looking forward to hosting the next winter Olympics in 2014.

First of all, what did the 'party organisers' think?

Well, no surprises here. The London Olympics are viewed as roaring success in London. We think we have been great hosts and showed the world our new take on what Britain is about. What's changed? Well, there is a feeling that we are united as never before. English, Scots, Welsh, Irish and many others - all seemed comfortable under the Union Flag. Unity in combination with diversity have in fact become the top values that Britain projected during the Games, according to Londoners.

Inclusivity and equality were also big. Ex pats that we spoke to in the streets of London said that they've never felt so welcome and proud. "I think London 2012 really showed how diverse it actually is, a real capital of the world in the 21st century".

People also felt that it was still 'recognisably British' - like an updated version of software. Creativity, design and humour seemed to come out as strong ingredients in the new London formula. The Royal Family confirmed its place in the nation's heart and proved that it's not just Prince Harry that can arrive at parties in style.

How did it play abroad?

Well, surprisingly similar responses there too! It did feel like a global event. To people overseas, Britain showed itself as a nation proud of its past but also able to build upon its successes and reinvent itself, all the while keeping true to the original ingredients.

Britain, according to Russians, showed itself as a confident nation that can laugh at "Oneself" (even at the Highest level). For people less familiar with Britain the changes were probably even more pronounced. The traditional and conservative island of Mary Poppins, Winston Churchill, the original Sherlock Holmes, and smog has certainly become more diverse and multicultural in the eyes of the world after the Olympics. Surprisingly, Mo Farah's name came up even in conversations with Russians.

Post-Olympic Britain has brought another star into the international arena; Boris Johnson is now recognised internationally and described by Russians as an open and 'accessible' politician, with a good sense of humour. (The zip wire incident and dancing to the Spice Girls certainly boosted Boris's popularity overseas!) "I remember I could not believe that he was cycling on one of those bikes! I think it's fantastic!"
Sounds like Boris the brand works across borders and the world won't miss David Cameron should Boris hijack the throne.

There's also an interesting story emerging around British Brands. It seems fashion brands like Topshop and Ted Baker in particular have captured the spirit, presenting an updated image of Britain with the necessary creativity and design connotations. Both were mentioned in UK and Russia. Mini and the new Routemasters were also praised as a good take on new Britain, managing to build on the heritage and yet project creativity and modernity.

So! Cynicism left aside - the 2012 Olympics have really worked well as a marketing exercise - London and Britain refreshed their brands.

And what's really striking - this 'rebranding' exercise produced a surprisingly consistent results inside and outside of Britain.

The challenge is on Mother Russia now to do the same in Sochi in 2014!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Thinktank on August brand-e Campaigns Panel

This month the talk was all about crowdsourcing ... yet again. Here's an extract from the article on brand-e.biz
“So, Heineken is looking for new ideas around draught beer?” asks Sabine Stork of Thinktank. Normal punters are unlikely to be interested in ‘reinventing the draught experience’ – what’s wrong with a proper pint that needs reinventing?’ I hear them ask – so this is one for aspiring professionals and I suppose anyone working in the industry who might want to conduct a bit of competitive intelligence. You can’t really blame Heineken for putting out innovations briefs online, I’m sure they’ll get some good stuff out of it. “Taking the punter’s perspective, as researchers are duty bound to do, I am more intrigued by the crowdsourced Citroen. As long as Citroen Facebook fans are really able to recognise their suggestions in a real life, 3D, moving car, this seems a great way of making brand advocates into enthusiasts and shows Citroen as a company that really listens to its customers.” Jackson Collins of Grey New York gives a thumbs-up to the campaign, too. “Citroen has done a good job of making use of crowd sourcing in an innovative way that demonstrates their willingness to listen to consumers,” he says. “By involving people in the design process it creates a sense of ownership even before the first vehicle rolls out of the factory.” For the full article ... read:

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Brand-e Campaigns Panel on Euro 2012

Brand-e asked my fellow panellists and me about our views on activity around Euro 2012 ... Castrol, you was robbed!! Below is an extract (and here's the full article from brand-e)

“Castrol have shoe-horned a celebrity into an ill-conceived campaign, which says nothing about them and creates no lasting connection with their audience or the Euros. Anything with Ronaldo in it gets YouTube views, Castrol’s spend has got them very little.”

“The live event looks interesting – letting people use their votes live is not new – but doing it with a world class footballer would have been dramatic,” says Nadya Powell at Dare. “Post event – there are videos showing how cool the live event was. But outside of numbers of people who played or watched, I’m not sure Castrol could, hand on their heart, say this achieved much for them. Except make a large hole in their budget.

“The idea is, I suppose, based around performance – Castrol is a superior performing oil and Ronaldo is a superior performing footballer,” she adds. “It’s pretty tenuous and I reckon most people are much more interested in Ronaldo’s performance than Castrol’s. And reading the write-ups, this does indeed seem to be the case – very quickly Ronaldo was bigger than Castrol and the event became about Ronaldo not Castrol.”

“Castrol is not really getting its money’s worth out of Ronaldo – it’s tricky not to be eclipsed if there’s so little natural fit,” says Sabine Stork, of Thinktank International Research. “I have the impression that a sports or drinks brand would find it easier to be seen and hence better reap a little reflected glory from one of the world’s best players than a mere motor oil.”