As Cultural Strategists, we invest our time and attention understanding the context that drives human behavior: the macroforces, societal trends and ultimately the resulting cultural values shifts that have a tremendous impact on how we exist in the world. This context influences the choices we make: from big life decisions and lifestyle preferences to our behavior in the marketplace.
The political marketplace has increasingly become a cultural focal point and provides a great example of how emerging cultural values have fueled momentum powering a different kind of politician and the movement his brand of politics is creating: Bernie Sanders.
Whatever the outcome of the election season, one objective fact can’t be denied: an unlikely candidate who, for all intents and purposes had been essentially written off by the mainstream political community, has been gaining more ground than anyone anticipated.
But what some might not consciously realize is that “The Bern” represents a critical mass of cultural values shifts that the team at Culture has spent their careers tracking. So, it’s safe to say we saw this coming. 😉
These values shifts result from the interplay of a number of big picture phenomena and trends, such as the rise of a global economy, increasing economic polarization, natural resource depletion, rampant technological and communication advancement, and the speed, efficiency and creativity with which humans have been able to connect, learn from and identify with one another.
Looking at developed world culture – with the U.S. as a prime example – we can highlight a few specific values shifts that underpin the principles and behaviors, which have created an ideal cultural climate for a candidate like Bernie Sanders to shine:
- From an “us versus them” mentality rooted in “othering” to fostering a global culture and finding common ground as a human civilization
- From a “humans first” mentality to acknowledgement of the commitment to a shared ecosystem
- From the belief that power can only be held and change can only be made possible by institutions to the belief in the power and empowerment of individuals and society
The Bernie Sanders brand of democratic socialism, which focuses on human rights, climate change action and other socio-political issues, hits squarely on these values. The implications have been far reaching – including forcing the ‘competition’ to begin softening its message to get in line – because this is the direction of change as dictated by the values of our culture.
Even just looking at a few items, quoted from the list of Bernie’s key platform issues , you can see the connection:
- Income and wealth inequality
- It’s time to make college tuition free and debt free
- Getting big money out of politics and restoring democracy
- Creating decent paying jobs
- A living wage
- Combating climate change to save the planet
- A fair and humane immigration policy
- Racial justice
- Fighting for women’s rights
But what are the implications for business and brands?
The fact is, values are beliefs that motivate behavior in life and in the marketplace. Values guide how humans react to change and how they will ultimately react to your brand in an increasingly cluttered and noisy landscape.
Which categories are most impacted by cultural values shifts like these? What does the landscape of trends related to those categories look like in relation to these values shifts? What other shifts are affecting your customers’ behavior and what should your brand / company do about them in order to succeed in the marketplace?
These are important questions to ask, and answering them effectively will require some deep exploration of your customers’ worlds.
At Culture, we are expert consultants who have spent our careers tracking global macroforces, trends, and values, working with leading global brands to direct strategy and keeping boots on the ground studying human cultural and behavioral context. Whether you are a client-side executive who needs a high-level but actionable overview of the implications for your business, or an agency looking to supercharge your planning or stand apart in your pitch with quick-turnaround insights that go far beyond trend reports and data-driven proof points, Culture can provide that strategic intelligence by connecting your business realities to the cultural context that is shaping our world.
Are you ready to uncover the “secret” motivations that will fuel your brand’s rise to the next level?
Let us find the superpowers hidden in your customers’ and your brand’s values that will help it burn even brighter.