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The impact of cultural relevance for brands

By Emily Foat
Thursday, 12 November 2020

Culture plays an important role in our lives — it binds us together and shapes our identity. And today, culture doesn’t just mean traditions, religion, or heritage, it covers so much more — everything from social and cultural events to sports, music, politics, arts, social trends. The list goes on. 

Yet, while we know culture is important to individuals, brands have often shied away from it. But a new study we ran with MAGNA shows Aussies not only want, but expect brands to get involved in culture. Culture plays a big role in shaping consumers’ identity so they want to see the brands they’re interacting with, get involved and take a stance. And this is especially important to young Aussies aged 18-35, and Twitter users who are the most passionate, informed, and feel the most strongly about brands aligning with culture.

Brands that do, not only earn trust and loyalty from Aussies. The study found cultural relevance is almost as important as having a positive brand perception, accounting for about a fifth of a consumer’s purchase decisions. That’s a big reason to get involved.

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How to be culturally relevant

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The study calls out four top ways Aussies think brands can become more culturally relevant. They are through:

  1. Giving back: Whether that’s through donations or sponsoring events, Aussies want to see brands give back to the community and support the issues that matter most to them. @CocaColaAU_Co is a good example here. To show its support for firies, it launched a Bushfire Emergency Relief Package, which saw it donate to key charities and businesses affected by the fires. It was a heartfelt move that showed the brand giving back to the broader community. 
  2. Supporting social issues that benefit everyone: Aussies want brands to support those biggest issues like inclusion, gender equality, and climate change that affect us all, through meaningful actions and engagement. @ANZ_AU has done this well, establishing itself as a strong supporter of the LGBTIQ community. Every year Mardi Gras celebrates diversity and inclusion with a series of activitations. Last year, ANZ turned every Oxford street in Australia into a beacon of LGBTQI+ inclusion. It’s a great example of how brands can support social issues in meaningful ways. 
  3. Put their customers first: Brands need to show they stand for their customers and not just for profit. @XboxANZ showed its support in its recent #Greenstown activation, which turned New Zealand’s Queenstown into a lightshow, which was live streamed around the world, for the launch of Xbox Series X|S. Xbox’s customers were at the forefront of the livestream, with interpreters, closed captions and a diverse range of people included to ensure it reflected its community. 
  4. Inclusive of all types of people — Ausses want brands to speak to their commitment to all consumers. @Microsoft’s Xbox Adaptive Controller is a great example of how brands can be inclusive to all. Its Adaptive Controllers are designed specifically to meet the needs of gamers with limited mobility so everyone can enjoy the fun of gaming.
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Getting it right

From State of Origin to Mardi Gras, a federal election, or even Game of Thrones finale, when something happens, it happens on Twitter. It’s the home of what’s happening in the world so it provides a great platform for brands to listen, engage and amplify their cultural involvement. 

When brands do this right, they reap the benefits. But it is important to remember, it’s not a one size fit all approach. Brands should be thoughtful in their approach to ensure authenticity, and understand the interest of their core audience, aligning to cultural moments that they are most passionate about. 

Brands that do, will go a long way to win the hearts and minds of Aussies. 

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@EmilyFoat

Emily Foat

‎@EmilyFoat‎

Head of Agency, ANZ

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