Culture Code Updates

While I’ve been reading my book here and there, I know I haven’t mentioned it much in my blog.. I feel like I’ve been so caught up and interested in tracking my group’s progress with the project/class. However, I’ve been making notes in my notebook and marking pages every time I read, and I just wanted to point out some of those that really stood out to me.

The culture code has been helping me look at my own life, and my peers lives, from a different perspective. I know there’s always been subconscious reasons why we all make decisions about the things we do in life, the products be buy, foods we eat, etc., but I never fully understood what caused it.

The Culture Code helps bring the “why do we make these decisions” to light, in revealing that there are specific codes for every aspect of life. Jeep wranglers have a code, beauty has a code, even love & seduction both have codes. This code usually has to do with our very first imprint of a product which often goes hand-in-hand with our culture and how we were raised. Finding out the code for any product or different areas of life can help companies figure out in which direction to steer their marketing efforts and how to portray different products in advertisements.

One of the codes that was definitely eye-opening for me was the code for love, and how that played into company’s advertisements after being educated by Clotaire. While I was shocked by the code for love, I also found myself completely agreeing with how much sense it made after seeing the common trends discovered during his Clotaire’s “discovery sessions.” While it’s different depending on country, the code for love in America is “False expectation.” So many people set their expectations so high and strive to find this perfect love or “Mr. Right” due to what they see in movies, yet so many American marriages end up in divorce. Jewelry companies use this to market off code and on code as well. For example, jewelry companies will market off-code to take people away from this subconscious of love being false expectation; they do this by marketing diamonds as a sense of commitment and a way of bringing people together forever,hoping that maybe buying this product will help cause that. However, once the code was discovered, they were able to introduce some new advertisements that marketed directly on code and that could appeal to people in a different way. These advertisements highlighted the high resale value of diamonds, which recognizes people’s subconscious and the sad reality of many individuals in America- that love and marriage may not always be forever.

Reading about Clotaire’s method of digging into the human subconscious shows me just how important it is for marketers to hold these in depth focus groups or discovery sessions. They can really bring to light a specific meaning or code behind a brand or product (just how we similarly felt our focus groups and research all lead to our nugget). It was really cool to watch these connections play out throughout the semester as I read about other individuals’ marketing work while conducting my own on the side.


The First Real Presentation

Last Tuesday, we gave what I would call our first official presentation, as it included basically all of our story plus some campaign ideas. As nerve-wracking as it was with 8 Penn State faculty members watching and critiquing, it was definitely an awesome experience and I’m so happy with where our group stands with the project. When we presented, all of our hard work became evident. It felt as if we were actually telling a story, one that was cohesive with the right research to back up our end decisions. It was definitely a different experience getting stopped by faculty with questions and comments throughout the presentation, but it definitely helped us not miss any important points of discussion.

One thing that I think my team members did exceptionally well when addressed by faculty about potential concerns was really sticking to their points and backing them up with valid reasoning. I think everyone was well spoken and extremely professional. There are definitely a couple aspects that need to be tweaked before the final presentation to corporate, but I’m excited about how far our team has come. At the beginning of the semester, I would not have pictured the project to be this developed. I’m so glad to have had this experience so far.

Personalization & Opportunity

Personalization & opportunity. These are two significant words that are guiding us in our next steps with Lipton. I think everything is coming together extremely well- way better than we had imagined. Conducting our last focus group definitely helped bring everything full circle for us. To figure out where to take Lipton with our nugget of insight (that millennials personalize every aspect of their lives to portray an image of the lifestyle they desire to live), we basically had students create their own, personal iced tea brands. This focus group was different in that it just involved a sheet of paper, on which participants simply circled items in different categories that they would associate their iced tea with. From these results we were able to figure out what personality Lipton could take on that other iced teas haven’t already. However, the differentiating factor about this campaign is that it doesn’t involve giving Lipton just one personality, but three different ones. The key reasoning behind this is the millennial values- the millennial aspires to be his/her own person, and we are letting him/her do that through each Lipton personality and the way the millennial chooses to interpret each. The other key differentiator is that every personality revolves around summer. In the focus group results, we realized that the most commonly circled items in every category all had the same overlap- summer. We knew then that the campaign had to revolve around summer, and each of the personalities would incorporate that.

It is all starting to come together. “Carpe Tea’em, Seize Your Tea.” What better way to take  Lipton on the journey with millennials than letting them seize their summer and the person they aspire to be?

What is our nugget?

Looking back over the past couple of weeks, it’s crazy to see how far our group has come- from what we thought was our initial insight to what we really know now.

I’ve learned what a process it really is to gain a true nugget of insight about a problem, and even still our group questions specifics every day. Is the insight that we have truly in line with our research? Should we conduct one more survey testing the success of a campaign developed from the insight? Do our tactics fit with our strategy and insight? There are so many factors throughout this project that have to be taken into consideration at every step of the way.

Right now, our group (Moxleveraged), combined agency and client, feels pretty confident with how far we’ve come and where we stand as far as the insight we have developed. To back up a little, focus groups were conducted for several weeks before and after spring break. A lot of brainstorming went into each of these focus groups, to determine exactly what research to collect and how we wanted to collect it. The first focus group was done with different groups of students on three different dates. With this focus group, we wanted to dig deep and find out what really draws millennials to the iced tea that they drink- not just because “they are thirsty” or “it’s a hot summer day” or “it’s just what they like.” Instead, we really wanted to explore the subconscious of millennials when choosing this drink – is there some sort of connected nostalgia, maybe a feeling of status or health? We had some of our own ideas, but were hoping that we could uncover something even deeper.

Completing the first focus group was definitely eye-opening in many ways. We were able to get a clear view of where Lipton currently stands among other iced tea brands, which actually was pretty unclear for Lipton. When it came to Lipton vs. brands such as Pure Leaf, Snapple, etc., students were very indifferent. Nobody really seemed to want to talk about Lipton, and it did not have any really strong brand associations, unlike the other iced teas. In our words, Lipton is a blank canvas. What void can Lipton fill? What brand personality can Lipton be? We also gained some insight as to why people might carry the specific iced teas that they do. Based on some comments made my multiple students, we started getting the feeling that people treat their drinks and bottles like an accessory. It matters to students what they’re conveying to others by carrying a certain drink across campus. They want to carry a drink that makes a statement about their personality or lifestyle, that portrays a certain image to other people- almost like a symbol of status.

Feeling like we have have gained a great deal of info, we are excited to begin work on our second focus group. The only question is, where do we go with it, and what can it do to help Lipton?


Nuggets of Insight

I feel like the nuggets of insight lecture has been really valuable to our team over the past week. It made me realize how deep you have to dig and how much research and analysis needs to go into a project like this before you can really find what you’re looking for. In this case, my group as the brand team has been gradually gathering all of the information we can (on iced tea in general, Lipton and other brands specifically, purchasers of tea, data on millennials, etc.) so we can really build a strong background of knowledge on our brand to be more confident when we find that one piece of insight. For me, that one piece of insight is like the “imprints” that are being discussed in my book. I think that in order to find the driver (of millennial purchases) for Lipton iced tea, I want our group to find the imprint of this tea- that meaning the first time that millennials ever came in contact with it. I want to find a way to bring millennials back to their past, to the very first scenario in which they encountered Lipton iced tea (where and why they were drinking it, what emotions they were experiencing, how they felt, who they were with), because  I think that first imprint (as explained in Culture Code) is what creates the foundation of associations to the brand. If we can figure this out, we can figure out what iced tea really means to millennials, and what the underlying driving factor is that causes them to buy it (not just what they want you to hear).

As our team has been working setting up our focus groups, we are trying to use some of this knowledge about imprints  (and how to reveal them) when developing our set of questions and projective techniques. I’m glad I am getting to go through this whole process of creating and analyzing a focus group. It’s a tedious process, but you learn how carefully every aspect and how each wording of each question needs to be considered.

I’m hoping it won’t be too hard to gather participants for the study… I know students sometimes need a lot of incentive and even with that it’s hard for people to take that extra hour of time out of their day. We really need a couple diverse groups of millennials for this if we want valuable information, so hopefully we can get them.

Week 4

We began this week with a reveal of our agencies and the conference call with Rachel. I think our agency matched up perfectly with Moximum. While they are definitely risk takers, we believe they have the background and experience to support that as well as a fun and creative personality. They seem like they will be dedicated to the job of refreshing the brand without totally alienating the heritage of Lipton.

It’s fun getting further along in the process of acting as the client and negotiating with the agency. It’s interesting to see how it’s kind of not one set process, but negotiations can change as we go and ideas can be passed back and forth.  Our agency recently asked us (after the pairing) for a short write-up/comparison of the Lipton brand to other Pepsi brands Pure Leaf and Brisk. They wanted to know what differentiates Lipton from these two brands and have a clear outline of the brand personalities as well as the customer purchase information for each. Our Unilever team is happy that the agency really seems to be on top of their project and look forward to what the coming weeks will bring. I feel like I’m really getting to know the brand and act as a part of the company.



My book finally came in the mail so I’ve started reading Culture Code… it’s a really interesting book & great way to teach yourself about marketing while enjoying what you’re reading. Culture code is all about the thought process of people and what the real internal factors are that drive us to buy what we buy. People never say what they mean, and Culture Code shows multiple different scenarios of that.

It’s actually perfect timing, because it’s connecting a lot to what we’ve been talking about in class. Culture Code, if you don’t know what it means, is basically the unconscious meaning we give to any given item via the culture we’re raised in. This immediately made me think of our lecture on nuggets of insight. The main character is famous for finding “imprints” on brands, or the one thing/connection that creates the first imprint of an object in your life.

It’s also already taught me a lot more about focus groups, which our group is going to take a lot from when we conduct our own.  The main character’s method of conducting his focus groups helps make so much sense out of why we like what we like and buy what we buy. When you ask someone to answer something about a product, they will never tell you what they’re actually feeling or their underlying thoughts. They’ll tell you what you want to hear. Questions like these immediately register in the intelligence cortex of someone’s brain rather than the emotional part of it, so we have to take a different approach. What Clotaire does is bring people into a calm, quiet state of mind, and take them back to the images, experiences, and memories of their first time using a product or their first time remembering being associated with a product. This is where you have the potential to figure out the “code word,” or the main insight to what emotional memory or circumstance connects people to the product. This “imprint” as he calls it, is what will shape the future image and perception for that person about the item.

Using this method has helped him figure out that one word, emotional connection, or driving factor that people have to the things that they use in life. I’m excited to introduce these tactics to my team and use similar methods in our own focus group.


Creative Brief Presentations

Key takeaways to keep in mind for future presentations:

  • Brand managers lead the discussion- engaging, make it personal
  • Know your role & be an expert
  • Better to have an overview of 3 visuals of deliverables before presenting them
  • Powerpoints –> less words, more pictures
  • Less like a presentation; more like an engaging session

Beginning to read the book Culture Code. Think it will definitely be insightful in the reasoning behind the way different people live their lives & the decisions they make.