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MediaCom unveils Cultural Connections partnership with Hofstede Centre

New data will give multinational brands the insights and strategies to leverage cultural traits to improve the effectiveness of their marketing around the world

MediaCom, the global media agency network, has formed a unique, long-term partnership with The Hofstede Centre, the premier global centre for cross-cultural research and its parent company ITIM International.

This partnership will see MediaCom and The Hofstede Centre working together to update the ground-breaking research carried out by renowned Dutch social psychologist and the father of scientific cross-cultural analysis, Dr Geert Hofstede. Hofstede’s theories, first published in 1980, are the most commonly used and cited models of national culture.

This update will be the largest study of its kind, surveying over 60,000 consumers across 52 countries in partnership with Lightspeed GMI part of Kantar Worldwide, the data investment management arm of WPP.

For the first time ever, the updated results will reflect the impact of a multi-platform digital world.

The partnership will give multinational advertisers exclusive insights on how different cultures and countries respond in different ways to content and media – relevant at a time when brands are increasingly needing to get the balance right between global efficiency and local effectiveness. Results of the study will equip advertisers with the necessary tools to better understand “what works where”, offering them the following benefits:

  • How to identify market clusters, or archetypes, where similar creative and content approaches are likely to work, helping to enable pre-testing programmes to incorporate common cultural sensitivities as well as geographical boundaries.
  • How to leverage cultural understanding to create guidance on how brand spokespeople should be used in different markets, thus helping with both the selection of endorsers, and the media strategy and message tonality in different markets.
  • Better strategic insight into the launch needs for new products, for example, in markets with a strong aversion to uncertainty and change – and therefore trial – such as Japan or Russia.
  • More relevant and effective cultural training and guidelines for global or regional executives who manage multinational teams or collaborate with international colleagues across different markets.
  • Smarter global mobility processes by enabling companies to identify where employee transfers are more likely to work, or where staff will need additional training to adapt faster.

Once complete, the updated Hofstede dataset will represent the most comprehensive cross-cultural project ever devoted to national culture, with MediaCom owning the exclusive rights to apply the new data in the field of marketing communications.

The first set of data is expected to be published in May 2016, and will subsequently be incorporated into MediaCom’s bespoke planning process and tools.

The Hofstede Centre and parent company, ITIM International, will continue to develop practical applications for the new dataset in the field of intercultural management and cooperation.

Pinaki Dutt, Global Head of Applied Connected Intelligence, will lead the project for MediaCom, working closely with Professor Michael Minkov, a key collaborator with Dr Hofstede for many years, and Bob Waisfisz, managing partner of The Hofstede Centre.  Professor Minkov will lead the academic side of the project, including questionnaire design and the data analysis needed to identify the key drivers of national culture.

“Brands are increasingly looking to move messages and strategies from one market to another. The problem is that what works in one place doesn’t always translate, and the issue is not often language, but culture. The new Cultural Connections study will give us the tools to predict those successes and direct the process from the start of message development, identifying how they need to be changed to make them more effective in our clients’ key markets. We’ll also be able to compare the cultural parameters within individual countries, rather than having one national index, allowing for more sophisticated applications,” said Pinaki Dutt.

“This project will help us develop a better, more up-to-date understanding of the influence of culture on communication and management practice. The study of cultural impact has become precise and powerful, and the new data from this project will further enhance our ability to develop practical applications for businesses operating in an increasingly global environment,” said Professor Michael Minkov.

ABOUT GEERT HOFSTEDE

Geert Hofstede is a Dutch mechanical engineer and social psychologist. Since the publication of his book "Culture's Consequences" (1980, new edition 2001), he has been considered a founder of comparative intercultural research. Hofstede‘s theories are used worldwide, and his model is still the most commonly used of national culture, taught at nearly all international business schools across the globe and preferred by most cross-cultural consultants.

To find out more, please visit www.mediacom.com/hofstede

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