This month in London, the Tate Modern opened a new ten story wing of its building. In San Francisco Apple opened the doors of WWDC. These two events underline an interesting shift in thinking.
For the past few decades, western ideals have been the most commercially viable. From a strategic point of view this was about following trends such as 'house of brands' for FMCG companies. For design it meant imitating many of the category codes which we've come to know and love.
However, this monolithic way of thinking is beginning to dissipate. In an increasingly globalised world where China is slowly gaining more power, it is no longer enough to impose cultural etic on consumers. Instead, the brands that are winning at the moment are the ones who understand this. In India for example, FMCG companies are profiting from counterintuitive Monolithic strategies.
Western companies are having to adapt their strategies to a more globally diverse world. Apple’s WWDC keynote made sure to namedrop Chinese apps such as DiDi, offering china only features and restructuring imessage to be more similar with eastern competitor Wechat. In its hurry to further push into the eastern market, many western consumers are concerned that apple are losing its golden touch while merely piggybacking off competitors existing features.
Many feel that apple’s core proposition just doesn’t translate well within Asia. The iconic Apple aesthetic is not set up to handle the cultural differences in aesthetic perception. With this gone, it is down to apples typically trailblazing innovation process to reinforce the brand and improve its 20% market share within the country. But Apple haven’t been doing this with the Chinese market.
Instead, they have been following competitors towards bigger screens and more animated messaging systems. Instead of creating something genuinely unique, the company is being guided by market research. Theres normally nothing wrong with that, but apple are a company not known for reinforcing a status quo.
Across the atlantic though, The Tate Modern have used the opening of their new ten story building to reposition themselves. With a strapline ‘art changes, We change’, The Tate have taken a further step towards defining the future of art. While the increasing focus on media and performance art felt rational, it was the increasingly wide cultural span that struck me. The new gallery has a greater focus on artists from areas of the world not typically showcased on the global art stage.
The increased eclecticism of this art has been warmly welcomed by the art community. New thinking, new styles, and a whole new span of reference. How this will translate into the business field is yet to be seen, but what we do know is that brands will have to shift their thinking in order to target a socially globalised world.