Understanding the Idea of 'Recoding Culture'

Filed Under: Best Practices, Market Research, Generations


At the TMRE In Focus Event, one of the sessions that was incredibly insightful was a presentation from Nick Lanzafame of Buzzfeed. The topic of his presentation was centered around the idea of “recoding culture,” which stems from what we know about Gen Y and Gen Z.

At Buzzfeed, they attribute three things to the idea of “recoding” of culture:

1. The end of demographics:The idea that many consider some demographic attributes to now fall on a spectrum such as gender, race, and sexuality as opposed to the more traditional view that each is defined as a distinct group.

2. The evolution of psychographics: This concept recognizes that attitudes change and evolve over time, including aging, and that cohorts have different attitudes than their larger group. For example, moms want to read about more than just “mom” stuff.

3. Cultural identities being limitless (“rise of the individual”): As people embrace what makes them unique, niche-y, weird, on-off identities are becoming the new drivers of the mainstream. In empathizing with and accepting others, we can create things that we may not have created ourselves.

So, what does the idea of ‘recoding culture’ mean for us as researchers and marketers? We should consider tweaking the way we think about things, such as:

  • Asking demographic questions differently – or, at the very least, not be so prescriptive in identifying or crafting a message based only on demographic groups.
  • Keeping in touch with consumers and customers regularly. It’s important to continually hear from them, as their attitudes may change over time (so many things can influence changes to their actions and behaviors!). In other words, don’t rely on that research from 5 years ago to understand your current customers and prospects.
  • Don’t discount smaller groups of consumers as they may have or spark ideas for something that could be relevant to a wider spectrum of consumers, or that could gain traction among a wider spectrum eventually – if executed well. This doesn’t mean that we should put a ton of stock in every little consumer group, but smaller groups of consumers should at least be considered when uncovering white space.

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