Humans make choices hundreds of times a day, from what type of television we watch to the outfits we wear. These actions are based on how individuals see or experience the world through a cultural lens. The cultural lens explains how the world is interpreted and translated into our minds.
Marketers are often challenged with the question of why people behave the way they do or interpret the information they receive. They must understand that people see the world differently from each other because they all have different cultural subscriptions. To successfully influence the public and get them to act, they need to understand the importance of learning about all different cultures.
In his upcoming book For the Culture, Marcus Collins, DBA ’21, examines the importance that culture has on human behavior and unpacks how everyone from marketers to activists can leverage culture to get people to do things such as vote, visit a website or buy a product.
"When I started to study social sciences, I quickly learned that everything I did as a practitioner was anchored, informed and influenced by behavioral sciences,” says Collins. “I became a better practitioner because of my understanding. From there I was able to help launch the Budweiser-sponsored Made in America music festival, move the (NBA team) New Jersey Nets to Brooklyn to become the Brooklyn Nets, as well as run digital strategy for Beyoncé.”
Academic practice continues to co-exist with Collins’ profession as the head of strategy at Wieden+Kennedy. In his book, he emphasizes how earning his Doctor of Business Administration (DBA) at the Fox School of Business has helped bridge the gap between his work in academia and as a practitioner.
Collins mentions in the Fox School Catalyst podcast episode “Branding the Beat" that during his time in the DBA program, he focused his studies on social contagion, which is the spread and adoption of effects, behaviors, cognitions and desires due to direct and indirect peer influence. This helps explain how trends grow and why people are influenced no matter the size of the brand.
“Something that has become abundantly clear in this industry is that despite the context of where I was working or who I was working with—they could be as big as McDonalds or as small as a non-profit startup up—it was the impact of culture that had the most impact on individuals' behavior,” says Collins. “As I began understanding the forces that influence decision-making, I found that culture was the most powerful. Culture could stem from things like the place where someone grew up, their religion, race or the university they attended.”
Collins wrote this book during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic while watching business models reshape and reimagine what society will look like or how to navigate uncertain times. This was a critical point in history where the death of George Floyd generated a cultural impact, and the public was experiencing a great amount of social unrest.
“I found that the better we understand people, the greater the ability you have to make them move. This creates a more impactful and insightful business model,” says Collins. “As marketers, we must use the ‘four P’s’: product, price, place and promotion to get people to adopt behaviors. If the ‘four P’s’ are used with good intent, the impact they have on business will be more positive.”
With social media at our fingertips, it is easy to access information about people. Collins highlights that even though we think we can learn a lot about a person through an online platform, we often mistake having this information about a person for being intimate.
“If you want to truly understand people, you must engage in an intimate exchange rather than just looking at individuals' information through a LinkedIn or Facebook profile,” says Collins. “As a marketer, you must be willing to put in the work. This ensures that we are marketers are translating the world towards the people, as well as targeting and offering services that observe all different cultures.”
Collins hopes that his book gives people a leg up in the marketing industry and helps them not just become better practitioners, but also more understanding citizens.
For the Culture will be available to purchase May 2.