FEATURE5 September 2017

Learning from the margins

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PAKISTAN – Speaking to those on the edges of society can be as valuable to brands as interacting with those in their target demographics, as Jim Mott of BAMM learned when conducting research with truck drivers in Pakistan.

Pakistani Truck drivers1

As researchers, we are often called upon to represent and understand the cultural mainstream of society. This is natural enough, given that – for most big brands – this is where their audience heartlands reside; the ‘safe’ centre ground of shared consensus. 

It is more difficult to operate in the margins of society. Defined by those who deviate from social norms, the margins are made up of people and groups who are perceived as a threat to the values espoused by those at the centre. 

Yet it is where the values of the mainstream are challenged or brought into question that they are most sharply defined – which makes the margins an enormously generative space in which to operate. This offers a potent benefit to clients, who can build communications that have a great deal more creative space in which to play. 

While it requires sensitivity to operate in this area (the recent ...