The World is Flat, but Culture isn’t History

27 Nov,2014


By A Corespondent


Consumer concerns about the erosion of cultural identity necessitates a new ‘Culturalisation’ approach to marketing communications, according to latest findings from VML Qais’ GenAsia  2014 pan-regional research.


This year’s wave of GenAsia found that 75 percent of 36-60 year olds, and 70 percent of 18-35 year olds in India, fear for the ongoing erosion of traditional values.




Some other interesting findings from Generation Asia on “Culturisation”



1. Society is far more progressive and tolerant now says 75% but at the same time another 72% say that while life has changed, family values remain the same

2. Apart from its products, what a brand believes in and how much they know of my own ethos is important – 71%

3. Foreign influences should be embraced, we can learn from other cultures say 72% but 75% want to stay loyal to tried and tested brands they know of

4. 74% worry that the moral standards of society have become lower



1. Beauty products with natural ingredients are better, especially ones which used to be home remedies – 85%



1. I prefer entertainment where I can bring my whole family along say 83%



1. As long as I find clothes that suit my personality, I don’t care what label they are from – 76%

2. I love buying brands that are unique – 65%



1. Meal times are special occasions, we do try eat together as a family – 77%

2. I am a creature of habit, I stick to food I like – 73%



1. Travelling to new places is a great way to learn about new cultures – 74%



1. I choose luxury brands that reflect my own personality – 71%

2. Luxury is being free to express my individuality – 70% 


Conducted by WPP-owned VML Qais, GenAsia is the world’s largest attitudinal study on connected Asians.The study includes 34,000 respondents across 10 Asian markets. In 2014, the study looks into the 36-60-year-old segment (Power) adding to insights already collated for the 18-35 (Potential) demographic. In India, the study covers 2,000 respondents in the five cities of Mumbai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Bangalore and Chandigarh.


The study uncovered that 72% of 36 to 60-year-olds and 77% of 18 to 35-year-olds like living in a world that is flat and imbibing from other cultures, however, there is a strong sense that development equals sameness. A surprising 77% of 18-35 year olds try to preserve cultural connections through family values.




Indians are seeking a sense of identity and relevance, of ‘here’ rather than ‘anywhere’, rejecting the global homogeneity that too many are embracing. The ‘worldwide vanilla’ approach to everything represents a missed opportunitywhen so many consumers are craving relevance based upon cultural values.


At the same time, they are open to learning from the world and adopting world formats, as long as they have a hint of their “own” in them. “This insight helps global brands looking to connect with Indian consumers think differently. Itis a new approach to marketing communications that we call ‘Culturalisation.’ This need to be able to talk to a generation’s cultural identity is what brands need to think about, instead ofendless discussions aroundGlobalisation versus Localisation,” explains Tripti Lochan, CEO of VML Qais.


Findings showed that despite the generation gap between Potential and Power, both agreed but from very different directions. The older ‘Powers’ were raised with advertising that encouraged them to aspire to ‘international’ ideals, the younger ‘Potentials’ increasingly seek their own cultural place in the world.


The study was launched in Mumbai and New Delhi with panel discussions. The Mumbai leg discussed how Culturisation is affecting women in India and their attitudes to multiple categories of beauty, love, communication, careerand fashion, given the findings: 74% women think that being in a marriage is only worth it if one is happy and 59% think love is over rated, marriages are about compromise; 62% women feel good looks makes a difference in career more than talent, whilst only 53% men think so.


The all-women panelists were Anu Menon (aka Lola Kutty), Asha Hariharan (Beauty Expert), Charlotte Chunawala (Communications expert), Elizabeth Venkatraman (Senior VP, Marketing, Kotak Life Insurance), Megha Sarin (Fashion and Food blogger), NonitaKalra (Columnist and former Editor of Elle) and Vrushali Telang (Author and former Anchor).


And in Delhi, the theme was on how Culturisation is impacting Parenting in India, given the findings: 91% of Delhi parents surveyed say their kids are the center of their lives, but only 60% rate their kids having fun as more important than them studying and 74% say they make sure everything in their kids’ lives is ‘arranged’ by them.


The panelists were Jyotsna Ghoshal (Director Corporate Communications, Merck & Co.), Prasanto Roy (Writer/Speaker on Tech, Digital, Green, former President & Chief Editor Cyber Media Group),Ranu Kawatra, (Advisor, Edutopia),Sharmila Bakshi (Political Science teacher, Vasant Valley School), Sumit Vohra (CEO & Founder, and Swati Bhattacharya (former NCD of JWT now leading Dentsu’s Mama Labs).


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