Culture Outside the Corporation

There’s no question CPG executives need to understand their organizational culture to assure the success of strategic initiatives. Culture provides groups with their identity, their differentiating qualities and a way to preserve themselves. The culture within the organization can have a dramatic impact on results. But the culture outside the organization can also define success or failure in business. Can businesses afford to ignore it?

For example, as this article points out, the first of the Baby Boom generation is turning 65 this year. They bring with them $3.4 trillion in annual buying power. But they don’t want to consider themselves “old”. An understanding of this particular baby boomer cultural attribute is leading some businesses to quietly lower shelves, make signage easier to read (some with magnifying glasses available) and censor their advertising to eliminate anything that has to do with “getting older”.

Another example can be found in an article by Booz & Co. about “Generation C”. Born after 1990, they are connected, communicating, content-centric, computerized, community oriented and always clicking. They’re “on the grid” 24×7, very social and very mobile. With these attributes in mind and considering they are growing up with i-everything, CPGs and retailers take notice.

The argument is easy to make. If brands and businesses want to remain relevant and create value for their consumers as well as economic value for their business, then they will need to personally become students of the culture outside of the organization. Grant McCracken is a cultural anthropologist, research affiliate at MIT and author of Chief Culture Officer: How to Create a Living, Breathing Corporation. He will be a featured speaker at the Shopper Insights in Action 2011 conference sponsored by IIR USA this July. Don’t miss this event.