If you’re a Bavarian October means: “beer! Lots of beer!”. The Oktoberfest is a two week beer festival held annually in Munich from late September to the first weekend in October. It is one of the most famous events in Germany and it is the world's largest fair, with more than 5 million people attending every year. The Oktoberfest is an important part of Bavarian culture, having been held since 1810. And as we mentioned earlier it has a lot to do with lots of beer and alcohol.
Now let’s have a closer look. What does alcohol do to a person? Alcohol is liberating. It sets the senses free and confers a sense of well-being, putting people in touch with who they really are. It also offers a sense of release from social inhibitions. For society to function there must be some limits on the individual's urges, so everyone has to 'water it down a bit'. That does not mean, however, that everything should be watered down until it is tasteless.
On the negative side, some people lose themselves in alcohol: it can simply dull the senses, resulting in unconsciousness. Remember our Bavarian. friend In excess, it does not help at all. Highly controlling societies that portray individual desires and wishes as negative cannot trust people to regulate their own behavior. They try to keep alcohol away from people, but this simply makes drinking in excess more attractive.
About 20 years ago, one of our colleagues was on vacation in Connemara with two girlfriends. One Saturday evening there was a village ball in the Parish Hall. By the time it started at 9pm, there was not a single sober person present. At 11 o'clock, when the bell for last orders was rung, and they saw most of the guests downing several more glasses, as if they were stocking up for later. The strict closing time was clearly not having the desired effect. Nevertheless, an alcoholic drink can create alertness and create a sense of well-being and ability to cope. Who has not sat down after a busy day at work, poured out a drink, heaved a sigh of relief and felt the stresses roll away? Alcohol is a social facilitator. Give people a glass and they can talk more easily, relax and create a pleasant atmosphere.
Beer (and especially lager) is a very accessible alcoholic drink. It has a relatively low alcohol content and mature drinkers can enjoy several glasses before they start to feel the effects. In the past it was used as a form of initiation into drinking alcohol. Beer – in comparison to hard liquor - is an easy-going, friendly drink. It helps people to relax and be informal, and fits perfectly with socially extrovert situations like football and barbecues. There is something male about beer: it has a directness and no-nonsense self-assurance that requires no explanation.
One well-known Belgian brand of beer has used the phrase 'men understand why'. Beer can take on different cultural connotations. In Hungary, originally a wine-producing country, young people see wine as something old-fashioned that their parents drink. It does not connect with their focus on Western values, so they want beer. In a well-developed beer drinking culture, exactly the opposite happens. Beer is an older person's drink, so young men wanting to mark out their independence from the older generation find it less attractive.
Steve Jobs and his exceptional ability to feel and understand the consumer.
October, 5th 2011, Steve Jobs passed away. The news spread like wildfire. The day after, we were all overwhelmed by articles, tweets, messages … stating we lost one of the most ‘charismatic’ and ‘visionary’ company leaders we have ever known. However his leadership was not very much by the book.
But what exactly made him such an inspiring and aspirational personality?
First of all he was passionate and a perfectionist. He really loved his job and lived for his ideal to change the world. This fervent zeal reflected on his company, his employees and even the whole world. It is not a secret that he was extremely high-demanding, therefore expecting just the same spirit and dedication from his staff. But most importantly his enthusiasm stimulated or even ‘obliged’ every single employee to do his very best; to be a part of the Apple story.
Secondly he dared to think differently. His indomitable curiosity steered his longing for innovation. To make a difference for people and leave his mark was the driving force of his ambition.
Steve Jobs not only innovated but also inspired his customers to start thinking about technology and the impact of certain electronic products on daily life. He was a great master in not just selling his product but also selling the brand and the accompanying image.
How exactly did he, as a very courageous and visionary leader, contribute to the overall brand experience?
Jobs served as the human icon for his brand, was tied up with the brand and embodied the whole Apple story. His most aspirational character traits became the key values of Apple, drove the entire organization’s success.
His ability to really feel and understand the customer, this especially was the reason that made Apple such a big brand. Steve Jobs tried to understand his consumer. Instead of living in an ivory tower, he approached his customer and opened the dialogue. He understood very well that a successful brand relationship is about brand subjectivity. In other words an engaged, interactive and constructive process in which the customer acts as an active co-creator of relevant meaning.
He knew like no one else how to sell dreams and not products. Products and service offerings are not the end goal but means to grant people memorable experiences. He recognized the importance of relating to people in specific situations and / or contexts, the power of personal relevance and tailor-made individuality which makes that brands take up a meaningful place in people’s lives.
He was a star in telling the story behind his products and mastering the message. He perfectly knew how to transfer his ideas to the world and how to inspire, engage and touch people.
By playfully experimenting with brands and images, Steve Jobs was able to develop businesses and products, considered long-lost. As the world goes on searching for new opportunities and chances, we can only hope that future inventors and innovators will possess at least just a fraction of Jobs’ vision and enthusiasm.
Steve Jobs’ story has ended and now his legend begins. We learned what an innovative vision can do. Jobs demonstrated that one person can make a big difference. But in fact everybody can make a difference. And what about you? Do you have the guts?
by Patricia Vossenaar
Qualitative Researcher at WHY5Research
The fundamental meaning of a habitat and its influence on our cultural expectations
When people intend to move to another place, the living environment is often one of the key elements in the decision making process. In fact, a living environment is built by different factors that can highly influence our feelings of happiness, freedom, safety or even conviviality. These factors can have a more rational character (e.g. facilities, the quality of the houses, the approachability of other (big) cities, employment…) or a rather social nature, such as the social cohesion in the area, the absence of criminality,…
So what makes a living environment a good place to live? Is it totally determined by these rational and social factors or are other elements at play? Everyone also has his own emotional expectations when it comes to a habitat. Since they are very subjective, these satisfactions sought can strongly vary. Consequently, there are various ways to deal with the same living environment, and a place that is ‘good to live’ for one person may be hell on earth for another individual.
Further, the way people give substance to ‘a good place to live’, influences their expectations concerning several facilities provided by an environment: shopping, sport, education,… Even our expectations on a cultural level are shaped by how we deal with our habitat. Not only it affects the variety of the offer we desire, it also outlines the value we attach to these cultural activities.
Roughly, we can distinguish 4 basic motivations underlying the various ways to define ‘a good place to live’. For each of these 4 fundamental needs for a habitat, we can point out in which direction their cultural needs tend to go, without claiming a one-to-one relationship between those 2 elements (i.e. habitat and cultural expectations).
by Mieke Vanderhaegen
(Researcher at WHY5Research)
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