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Concept drift Why ideas don’t always meet across markets June 2004 GRAVITY.

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Presentation on theme: "Concept drift Why ideas don’t always meet across markets June 2004 GRAVITY."— Presentation transcript:

1 Concept drift Why ideas don’t always meet across markets June 2004 GRAVITY

2 What is concept drift? Say a UK brand stands for ‘indulgence’ When researching outside UK/US, country by country, the idea of indulgence starts to deteriorate, is amended, reduced, manipulated, fragmented It’s easy to come out with a qualified, impoverished positioning How can research enrich rather than impoverish international concept development?

3 GRAVITY ‘Languages are not mere collections of labels attached to pre- existing bits and pieces of the human world but each speech community lives in a different world from that of others and these differences are both realised in parts of their cultures and revealed and maintained in parts of their languages.’ R.H. Robins, Professor of General Linguistics, University of London A key factor:

4 GRAVITY What does this mean? Speech communities experience the world differently from each other They conceptualise/segment experiences and ideas differently

5 GRAVITY An example concept Masochism Excess Unnecessary Spoiling Treat Guilt Sophisticated Savour Sensual Reward INDULGENCE (English)

6 GRAVITY English Indulgence The word exists in French, Italian and Spanish but it means religious forgiveness (Catholic) or lenience The concept doesn’t exist in the same form The Spanish certainly have ‘treats’ But do they feel guilty about them? No! Masochism Excess Unnecessary Spoiling Treat Guilt Sophisticated Savour Sensual Reward INDULGENCE (English)

7 GRAVITY Definitions and roles A concept is an identifiable, cohesive bunch of associations Words are labels for these bunches of associations To help us refer to that bunch of associations To help us communicate ideas to others To enable us to assess experiences and ideas in terms of it To help us think and understand our world

8 GRAVITY Thought and language develop in tandem Recognisable, identifiable thought Word

9 GRAVITY If people don’t have the ‘word’… ….they may not have the ‘concept’ No current translation of the word… They recognise the concept? They don’t recognise the concept, but can be helped to do so? They can’t appreciate the concept?

10 GRAVITY Universal concepts have direct translations Neko = Gat = Cat = Chat = Katze = Catt = Koc˘ka

11 GRAVITY But some concepts are less universal Piropos Tertulia Logam Sarariman ? Schadenfreude Zabíjacka

12 GRAVITY Some don’t really exist in our culture: Piropos (Spanish): compliments whispered to women by passing men of all ages We don’t do it Zabíjacka (Czech): ‘Slaughter Party’ We don’t have it Logam (Swedish): desirable quality of not being extreme (but not ostensibly moderate either!) We don’t experience it Sarariman (Japanese): executive in large company (security, respectability, conformity) We don’t value it in the way they do

13 GRAVITY Others we know, but don’t consciously recognise Tertulia (Spanish): elderly men gathering informally in a bar for a game of dominoes and gossip about local affairs We have it but don’t see it as a concept so don’t need a word Schadenfreude (German): the enjoyment of someone else’s discomfort We recognise the concept, we’ve borrowed the word

14 GRAVITY Some are related, but don’t match precisely Incorrect Use Exploit Abuse Excess Unnecessary Spoiling Treat Guilt Small Perfection Sensual Positive Negative Outer Inner Genuß Abus ? Petits Plaisirs Egoistes INDULGENCE Connoisseur The Good Life Showing Off The Most Expensive Exquisite Savour Reward Masochism Sophisticated

15 GRAVITY Why is this important? It has implications for giving brand concepts meaning across borders And therefore also for creative executions/campaigns Because it helps us understand what kind of spaces ideas occupy in people’s minds What kinds of reference points are being used And because it suggests we might benefit from going about international concept development in a different way

16 GRAVITY Negotiating concept drift Start as early as possible in the process It’s hard on idea development teams to be given a one- culture brief for a multi-country project…. And then see their work used as international cannon fodder Ideally the process of mapping the possibilities starts as soon as the overall strategy is identified Eg. a car brand wants to own the concept of ‘solid’ Perhaps translated as ‘fest’ in German, ‘robuste’ in French A visual thesaurus helps start the process of articulating the richest territory to explore across markets

17 GRAVITY Solid stalwart strong compact brave resolute stable equanimity balance tough healthy robust convincing persuasive effective integrity quality character complete constant well-founded three-dimensional obstinate coherent dense sturdy clear deep profound substantial tangible authentic real true honest definite exact firm certain

18 GRAVITY flimsy thin weak ineffectual false fragile superficial unsubstantial feeble frail makeshift poor tender wobbly delicate temporary fine breakable puny unhealthy unsatisfactory impotent insecure spineless faltering substitute Need to look at negatives too

19 GRAVITY KLM’s long-standing strapline in Dutch Betrouwbaar trust faith loyal reliable promise confidence well-known familiar personal credentials assurance aplomb affection safety dedicated mission active lasting The English version ‘the reliable airline’ is not wrong, but it’s missing quite a lot!

20 GRAVITY Stimulus materials can enrich this process E.g. ask respondents to think of a ‘solid’ item in advance of the research Lists of ‘solid’ people, brands etc. as prompts Words on boards for mapping To be added to in groups by respondents Magazines for imagery tear sheets Ads that portray solidity Solid brands on cards for mapping the territory Brand pictures, stories, facts, claims…to bring it down to earth and connect it to the key messages Probe creative as well as market context

21 Proposal Set-up Stimulus Field Analyse Interpret Making the most of the whole project team GRAVITY Our idea driven, ‘dynamic synthesis’ approach makes the most of GRAVITY insight and team expertise.

22 GRAVITY Outcome Will Depend on Marketing Needs Creating new brands and re-launching dormant ones more freedom to search for ‘one’ solution aiming for a concept which is consciously recognised in all markets Launching an established brand in new markets already have an anchor-point, find concepts/identities which are closest to the fixed point

23 GRAVITY Many possible outcomes A common concept in all markets - the grail solution! A common concept but some markets need explanation/heavy cues we’ll know exactly what parts are common we’ll know exactly what cues are needed Separate but related concepts We’ll know how they are separate and how they are related We’ll know what this means for the brand in all the markets We’ll know the implications for the advertising Separate concepts We’ll know why We’ll know the manifestations of these We’ll know the implications for the brand and the advertising

24 GRAVITY Summing Up Differences in the way languages work reflect differences in the way different communities experience their worlds Those who speak differently, think differently Concepts can return from international research compromised or impoverished if we don’t plan ahead Concept drift thinking can help by broadening the understanding of concepts for exploration across markets Allowing us to identify deeper, clearer, and more motivating concepts


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