Why Meaning Matters:

Here are the takeaways (you can watch the full 13-min keynote below).

Realty check: Why Dr. Wellness does not work with toothpaste.

It’s why you need the anthropologists around. To help you distinguish perception from reality. We are all guilty of this – making assumptions in places where we don’t even realize we’re doing so. Asking what something means allows us to take a step back and gain perspective and understand what culture is really like in reality.

Consider this example.

You’re an oral health company and you’ve been watching this ‘wellness’ trend erupt over the last few years. You’ve now decided to evolve some of your existing products, and launch or acquire some new ones to own the position of wellness for the master brand. One of the obvious interpretations of wellness you’ve arrived at is “natural ingredients”. Why? Because consumers have told you so.

“Well, it goes in my mouth so it makes sense that it has ingredients that aren’t going to harm me in the long run.”

So you take it and run with it ….and you begin with toothpaste.

Does it work?

No, not at all.

Why not? The culture of toothpaste in the context of wellness is actually undefined. It’s volatile. That is, people can’t seem to agree on what it’s supposed to mean. So while in interviews or in tweets, consumers may have linked wellness to natural ingredients, the connection in the context of toothpaste specifically, just does not jive for consumers.

Perception ≠ Reality.

To be clear, there’s absolutely no problem with chasing the opportunity around toothpaste with natural ingredients. Still not mainstream but it’s growing nicely. The problem arrives when you try to slot it into a larger wellness strategy. It does not work.

It’s a cultural misfire.

So how then does this oral health company figure out an umbrella strategy for their move towards natural and sustainable?

By asking the same question every single time – and working backwards rather than forwards.

What does ______ mean?

Doing so will allow you to work backwards from your existing product lines and follow the chain of reasoning in the mind of the consumer. Ultimately arriving at the underlying strategic positions you could take without needing to force it in culture. [More on this in next week’s newsletter.]

New features in 2022: Improvements to MotivBase Trends

I’m happy to announce a series of new developments coming to MotivBase Trends in January 2022. It’s been a fantastic year for us, not just in terms of our growth and impact within organizations, but also in terms of major breakthroughs in deepening the application of anthropology to studying millions of consumer conversations in context. Specifically, 2021 has been a year where we’ve focused heavily on data, its breath and its depth in allowing us to report on more nuanced socio-demographics, as well as in improving our self-serve functionality aiding clients to easily identify microcultures of opportunity.

Click here for the details.

Do you like being pushed out of your comfort zone? Thinking differently?

You might want to listen in to our weekly podcast, Why Meaning Matters. We talk about the issues that matter to corporate research, and showcase the value of anthropology to business and innovation.

What do you want to research today?