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A Family Story – Associations with “family” across two cultures

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Understanding what a topic is all about is very important for effective communication and marketing. This article illustrates differences of associations with “Family” between the UK and Singapore, a western and eastern culture.

We partnered up with Athene, a boutique consulting company from Singapore and selected the UK and Singapore because of their diverse culture, but common language. We aim to uncover the associations with family, to enable us to juxtapose the collective narrative of each country to define each sharply.

Family association map

Using NEURO FLASH’s big data comprising news, social media, blogs, forums, etc. we are using data that both shapes and are shaped by consumers. Integrating this data with Athene’s cultural understanding expertise, we are sharing some highlights of our insights on the collective narrative of the family.


Singapore Flag (Wikipedia)

In Singapore, the most dominant family associations (closest to the center) encompass relationships with spouse & children and also include parents, siblings, extended families as well as the wider community. This reflects its collective cultural context, where most of these associations have a positive emotive loading (expressed by the green), which gets diluted when it comes to more distant relations as well as the elderly to a certain extent.

Source: Neuro Flash, Singapore, Jan 2020

An interesting association that differentiates Singapore from other countries is the association of family with wealth and inheritance. This can be best understood when you see it in light of the importance of Materialism and Masculine values in the culture.

The UK

United Kingdom UK Flag (Wikipedia)
The UK

In contrast, in the UK the associations with family are more diverse. Similar to Singapore, associations with close relationships — spouse, children remain positive though it is not so with extended family where the negative associations are enhanced, given the individualistic cultural context.

Source: Neuro Flash, UK, Jan 2020

Interestingly, we also see the ‘friends are family’ sentiment expressed in the UK and the family association is also extended to pets with the furry association. Moreover, the wider narrative of fun and relaxing family moments are much more entrenched in the UK whether it is through getaways, vacations, hobbies, Easter, which isn’t as dominant in Singapore.

What does this mean?

Given the difference in cultural context, how will the lockdown impact family associations and consumption differently across the markets? Are consumers in the UK more likely to seek fun things to do as a family indoors – whether it is in entertainment, board games, DIY projects, hobbies, etc.? Are Singaporean consumers likely to seek out a different way to be connected to their extended families during this lockdown period even though they live in different households?

Winston Churchill said, “There is no doubt that it is around the family and the home that all the greatest virtues, the most dominating virtues of humans, are created, strengthened and maintained.”

Stylized representation of the association map with positive words marked in green and negative ones marked in red.

Cultural values and associations in societies are deeply entrenched and don’t shift easily.

However, challenging times such as these will undoubtedly leave a lasting imprint.  Analyzing behavioral change brought about by a crisis, when decoded against a cultural lens can give us an insight into which of these changes are likely to be more embedded than others. Brands that seek to develop deeper relationships as we emerge from these difficult times, can benefit from honing their cultural sensitivities.

Have your own cultural topic challenge? Get in touch with Athene via their website and try out the Neuro Flash Software to understand consumers instantly.

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