How will Czechs live in the future? What will they deal with? What will be important to them? What impact did the crisis have on how they perceive their future? Did they rethink it? How? Why?

We tried to answer these questions in the research study Future of the Czech Republic, which was based on cooperation between researchers from the Center for Social Marketing and OMG Research team. This cooperation produced a unique study that combines commercial research with insights that can only be provided by the social science theory.

 

We have identified seven groups of consumers who will form the future core segments: single people under 35 years of age, single seniors over 55 years, families with young children, families with teenagers, single-parent families and families with grown children. With three households in each group, we spent one afternoon with each family in their homes, talking to them about their lives. Subsequently we analyzed all interesting facts that we learned from them and created a detailed questionnaire. Another 1,575 respondents gave us these answers to the following quantitative survey:

 

Crisis?

 

The future is a continuation of the present, and for many people in the Czech Republic the present means a struggle against the economic crisis. Although there is an opinion that there was no crisis at all, or that the situation was just a media bubble, there are very few people who have not experienced the crisis in some form in their everyday life. Many people have lost their jobs and are not able to get another, they struggle with their income and expenses, they experience an escalated atmosphere at work, or they simply do not think about their future and old age.

 

Our study showed that only 6% of Czechs are convinced that there was no crisis at all, while 14% considered it to be an artificial media bubble. On the other hand, 61% of Czechs believe they will experience another economic crisis.

 

Crisis!

 

What does the crisis mean to the Czechs? How do they experience it and how does it affect their perception of the future? And how does the crisis affect their wallets?

 

People often experience previously unknown personal financial crises, whether as a result of a job loss, problems in business or increased prices. It is, however, only a certain percentage of the population. A far more common and not so readily visible effect of the crisis is embracing uncertainty that permeates the daily lives of almost all inhabitants of the country. People are not sure how they will be able to keep their jobs. It is uncertain whether they would find another job, and if so, what kind and for how long. It is uncertain whether prices will rise again, or if people will have enough money to cover all their necessary expenses. Will they be able to pay the mortgage? Repay the loans? Have money for vacation? Have money for buying clothes? This feeling of insecurity then threatens what is most important to people: family, children, health, and everything else that plays an important role in their lives, present and future. 

 

In addition, Czechs feel that there is almost no one who can be trusted. They do not believe politicians. They do not trust big brands, banks, advisers, and lawyers. As a result, they rely more and more on their own experience and the experience of other consumers. They trust those who are selfless in their recommendations: doctors, servicemen, independent tests.

 

What about it?

 

How do Czechs deal with the uncertain future? Do they all have the same solution? 

 

People have developed particular strategies that help them to face an uncertain future. On one hand, they seek to ensure a stable household income; on the other hand, they strategically optimize their spendings.

 

A) Income strategies

 

I do not expect something to happen, I act by myself

Almost nobody today is certain of their job - man or woman. There are some consumers who count on an uncertain future and try to confront this fact by improving their skills, starting a business, or actively looking for a job in fields other than their own. 

 

Reserves in the mattress

Then there are those who are facing uncertainty by saving more money, in case they lose their jobs. They increase their insurance, set up savings accounts, or simply put aside more money per month.

 

Vicious circle

Some people are not lucky enough to be able to save more for a rainy day, or to be able to increase their qualifications or start a business. There are people who are trying to get work, but they are not successful. They are earning via temporary or part-time jobs, but they have unstable incomes, so they are often forced to deal with everyday expenses with short-term borrowing either from institutions or from friends and family.

 

I rely on outside help

Some people believe that they will get help from state institutions and they are more or less passively waiting until the economic situation improves.

 

 

B) Outcome strategies 

 

People are increasingly looking to spend money only on things they need. They developed several strategies enabling them to optimize their spendings.

 

Mosaic

People collect information about where to get cheaper yet high-quality products. Based on this information and knowledge, they are adjusting their purchases. They do not necessarily shop for all the products and services they need at one place. 

 

Downgrading

Consumers do not want to compromise on some things that are important to their lifestyle. However, they may look for cheaper alternatives.

 

Spending under control

People solve many things themselves. For example, they learn how to create or fix things by themselves rather than pay for external service delivery.

 

Crone herbalist

Some consumers prefer to turn to nature and grow their own food or they become DIY and manufacture products for their own use.

 

 

Will it get better? Will people stop saving when the crisis ends?

 

Hardly. The vast majority of our respondents intend to continue saving their money. 44% of them think that the crisis will be never completely over, and 61% think that they will experience another economic crisis again.

 

People feel uncertainty. People are saving, and they do not want to spend money unnecessarily. People do not think that the crisis is over, therefore they do not plan to stop saving. On the contrary, they are developing new strategies that will enable them to save wisely. These strategies are becoming the new key to understanding the behavior of Czech consumers in the post-recessive Czech Republic.

 

More at http://futureofcr.cz/en/

This project is focused on food consumption of Romanian immigrants in Italy.

 

This was a qualitative study in the form of in-depth interviews and ethnographic visits during which respondents were observed and filmed in the course of food preparation. The qualitative data was analyzed through different tools and through different social science theories. The most appropriate in this case proved to be a semiotic analysis in combination with

other theories.

 

Semiotic analysis showed how important and meaningful Italian and Romanian food is to the respondents. Data showed that Italian cuisine can be perceived either positively as modern or negatively as insufficiently traditional, depending on the situation. Likewise, the Romanian food can be seen positively as traditional or negatively as unfashionable. The same characteristics of food products can thus be seen positively or negatively depending on the particular context in which they have been consumed.

 

More at http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/10253866.2011.574827

Future of the Czech republic
research project realized in cooperation CSM and OMG research group (Omnicom Media Group)

Projects realized by Center for Social Marketing

Projects conducted by members of the Center for Social Marketing

Romanian female immigrants and the importance of Italian and Romanian food
​Health and food in the Czech Republic and Denmark
The project was implemented in cooperation with Dorthe Brogård-Kristensen, University of Southern Denmark.

The project was implemented in cooperation with Dorthe Brogård-Kristensen, University of Southern Denmark. 

 

Today's society puts a great emphasis on body image - how our body looks. The body becomes a project we need to work on, and as such the body reflects "the value" of the person. Someone who has failed in this project and is overweight, is not seen as worthy of recognition. We see them as someone who is lazy and who deliberately jeopardizes their own health. Health problems are therefore seen as their own fault.

 

That is the reality in the Western world. But is this reality adopted by all people in different countries? Is it perceived the same everywhere? Is it lived and experienced the same everywhere?

 

According to the World Health Organization, the Czech Republic ranks highly among the countries with the largest share of overweight people (62%). Denmark is doing much better with 48%. Hence, the focus of this study was on the impact of historical and socio-cultural context on how people approach their health and the role of healthy/unhealthy foods.

 

Based on the qualitative analysis, which emerged from ethnographic interviews, we found that while in both countries the appearance of the body is perceived as a sign of moral human values, these countries have a different approach to how such a "successful" body should be built. The most noticeable difference in these two countries was who the consumers trust. Because people in Denmark trust the system in which they live, they do not perceive their own choices as risky. It is because people believe that the state would not allow any choice to be risky. As a result, they rely more on a kind of "inner voice" that tells them what is good for them and what is not. Consequently, they are more skeptical about so-called expert systems (e.g. medical) that tell them what is good for them.

 

On the contrary, people in the Czech Republic perceive the risk of their own choice as high. Because they do not trust the system (state), they do not believe that it is safe for them to make independent decisions on their own. Therefore, they have more reliance on and confidence in expert systems (e.g. doctors) who will tell them what to do.
 

Marketing for people 

Mainstream youth in the Czech Republic and their consumer lifestyles

 

This research project explored the meaning of consumer lifestyles (fashion, brands, music, etc.) in everyday lives of young people in the Czech Republic. The aim was to explore how young consumers construct their identities in the context of late-modern, individualised culture. The focus was on "mainstream" - ordinary young people, who did not consider themselves as alternative, or subcultural. These "mainstreamers" are often neglected in Czech sociological research that is preoccupied with more radical, disadvantaged or spectacular youth groups.


Although there is no solid research on mainstream young people in the Czech Republic, mainstream youth is often taken for granted as a label or synonym for passive, conforming and sheep-like behaving youth. 

The results, based on the focus groups, essays and in-depth interviews with 95 young people strongly challenge this stereotype. Data indicates that belonging to the mainstream does not imply straightforward passivity and blind following of the consumer trends. Mainstream youths approach consumption actively, critically and quite reflexively. Young consumers use their consumer lifestyles as a means of integration into late-modern individualised culture. Consumer lifestyles help them to shape their own individualised identities.

Young people, for example, carefully and reflexively collect and combine different styles in order to find a unique look within the dominant culture. The data also showed that the "mainstreamers" challenge stereotypes of sheep-like passive conformism in complex, yet often paradoxical ways. For example, the paradox of active conformity points out that individualized consumption reflects conformity to the values of late modern society. In other words, young people conform to an active attitude towards their life in a society where individual decisions are not an option, but the norm.

 

The paradox of choice points out that, even when it seems that young consumers have unlimited choices, they often learn that their choices have consequences and are often restricted by socioeconomic and cultural barriers. The research concludes by suggesting that the concept of “mainstream” youth offers a potential way of understanding young people’s relationship to social change in what appears to be an increasingly individualised society.