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Assume Nothing: Why Understanding Social Dimensions™ Affects our Ability to Create Change

Posted by Aerien Mull on Sep 10, 2015 08:00 AM

The countdown to 2044 has begun, and we all know that diversity is no longer simply a growing trend that can be put on our to-do lists for tomorrow. But as we grow more diverse, we become both more similar and more different. Long-held stereotypes of age categories, ethnic groups or sub-cultures are no longer relevant.

Millennials and Hispanics have never been a one-size-fits-all market, but are you making the right assumptions about their preferences and behavior? Our ability to reach target markets must expand as our mixing bowl gets thrown into the blender.



Many advertisers are moving toward an inclusive “whole market” strategy or translating general market communications for select markets. However, effective behavioral change campaigns must go beyond translation, and often even “transcreation,” to understand all of the underlying social determinants that form the integrated identity of the target audience, to truly motivate real and contagious change. Here at Brunet-García, we call it the SocialDimensions™ model. 

Brunet-García has worked for over a decade on behavioral change campaigns for disparate populations, specifically in the areas of health and safety. Along the way, we’ve gained an intimate understanding of the full range of identity factors and motivating trends that can help inform an integrated approach to communications and outreach, reducing disparities and improving outcomes across racial and ethnic divides. 

Understanding Identity Factors: How Are We Different?

At any given moment of time, each of us has a fixed identity, rooted in truths about our body, heritage, and resources. These are self-identifying characteristics—such as race, ethnicity, gender, ability, and SES—that should be relatively easy information to obtain about your audience through effective target audience segmentation and market research. While these factors may change over time, they can be considered fixed for the purposes of behavioral change campaign targeting.

Understanding Motivating Trends: What Causes Us To Act?

Once you have a clear picture of how your audience identifies, only then can you begin to understand what internal and external motivators are driving current behaviors, as well as identify potential outlets to develop effective campaign messaging. The second stage of the SocialDimensions™ model takes into account the relevant internalized motivators—such as habit, lifestyle, and religion, as well as the socialized norms in which the subject exists—such as representation, access, and stereotypes.

Unlock Positive Change: Move Understanding to Action

This model is designed to reveal truths about current behavior, unlock unexpected idea tracks, and can even map out potential roadblocks to success. Strong strategic direction and creative insight lies in a multi-dimensional approach to understanding. Trying to reach an elderly Hispanic population in South Florida with pedestrian safety messaging? Their waning physical abilities and preference for Spanish materials are first on your list to consider. But their unique living conditions and family ties may be just as important. Have you considered a possible resistance to governmental messaging? Will safety messaging that plays off of an affinity for superstition play well in the market?

The answer for why they cross the road has as many potential answers as the old adage—but to move the needle on successful social initiatives with creative communications, make sure you have looked at every dimension.