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Understanding how brands can leverage Icelandic culture

Understanding how brands can leverage Icelandic culture

Brands tapping into local or national identities isn’t new. However, as consumer identities evolve beyond geography and into tribes with similar interests, businesses looking to leverage this aspect of brand identity need pinpoint insights to hit the mark. For example, vodka brand Reyka leans heavily on references to Icelandic culture to distinguish itself from competitors.

Reyka’s messaging heavily alludes to the country’s unique geology. As the self-styled ‘taste of Iceland’, the vodka producer highlights its use of water from “glacial springs” located in “lava fields”, as well as discussing glaciers, volcanoes and auroras. While this is an accurate portrayal of Iceland, it also feels clichéd.

For brands leveraging identity to move beyond surface-level insights, they need to undertake different types of analyses. This includes analysis of text data. To show how brands like Reyka can learn more about Iceland, we looked to the Icelandic population.

Relative Insight used a social listening tool to gather tweets from people in Iceland about their home country, as well as posts from Americans about the Nordic country – amounting to hundreds of thousands of words. Uploading this text data into the Relative Insight text analytics platform and comparing linguistic features from the two audiences revealed quantifiable differences in how each group talked about Icelandic culture.

Americans’ Iceland discussions mirror Reyka brand identity 3.2x more

People in the US referenced Icelandic features in a similar way to Reyka. They used words relating to the country’s ‘beauty’ 1.6x more, including ‘beautiful’, ‘cool’ and ‘gorgeous’. They also talked about the ‘sights’ of the country 1.2x more, like the ‘Blue Lagoon’ (5.3x) and ‘Aurora Borealis’ (). Overall, these elements overindexed 3.2x more in American’s conversations about Iceland.

Going to Iceland to see the beautiful Aurora Borealis is the first goal of this year.

Conversations about the country’s geology were related to one key theme: traveling to Iceland. People in the US were 1.3x more likely to use words related to movement, such as ‘go’ and ‘going’, as well as referencing ‘travel’ 2.3x more. They also used the phrase ‘wanna go’ 12.5x more and were 40.9x more likely to highlight that Iceland was on their ‘bucket list’.

I wanna go to Iceland 😫. Definitely on my bucket list.

As well as this traditional snapshot of an Icelandic vacation, there were other attractions which appealed to potential American visitors – namely the Icelandic Phallological Museum. This part of Icelandic culture caught Americans’ eye; they used the phrase ‘penis museum’ infinitely more.

There is a penis museum in Iceland and my wife has been to it… wtf!!

Relative Insight regularly urges brands to mirror consumers’ language to achieve resonance. This analysis suggests that Reyka has achieved this for its US audiences, with its portrayal of Iceland chiming with Americans’ view of the country (minus the penis museum). However, this messaging won’t work with every audience, which is why it’s essential to get different perspectives on the country – including from Icelandic residents themselves.

People in Iceland talk welcomes, weather and emigration

Americans’ enthusiasm for traveling to Iceland is matched by Icelandic residents’ desire to welcome them. People tweeting in Iceland were 3.2x more likely to use the word ‘come’, within the context of encouraging people to “come to Iceland”. They also used the phrase ‘best place’ 13.2x more and ‘always welcome’ infinitely more, showcasing pride in their country and demonstrating their hospitality – an aspect of Icelandic culture which isn’t necessarily discussed as widely.

Come visit Iceland! I’ll take you around to see the sights, we can both wear sandals and shorts ❤.”

A reason for this encouragement appears to be that many people Icelandic tweeters are expats who have gone through the same discovery experience. They were 2.9x more likely to use the word ‘moved’ and said that they ‘live’ in Iceland 2.4x more. While this may reflect people tweeting from the country in English – rather than Icelandic – are predominantly expats, the populace enjoy sharing their experiences.

I have been living in Iceland for the last 4 years and I love it! 😀”

Traditional portrayals of Iceland focus on the stunning geology. Its residents eschew this topic for something more mundane – the weather. They talked about this aspect of Icelandic life 3.4x more, however, what’s more interesting is how they discussed it. The word ‘here’ overindexed 6.1x more, suggesting tweeters were describing what Iceland is like to people who don’t live there.

I envy you folks being able to take photos outside. Here in Iceland, I’d be lucky if I get one second of no wind. 😂”

Whether it’s part of Icelandic culture or a quirk of Twitter conversations involving people living there, the need to describe and advocate on the country’s behalf permeates through every aspect of residents’ conversations.

A different take on Icelandic culture

Analyzing social media conversations has identified and quantified the unique ways Icelandic residents talk about the country. Rather than talk about the landscapes and other elements more commonly associated with the Icelandic culture, the populace look to sell the Nordic nation in its totality to non-residents.

Reyka aligning its brand identity to Iceland’s geological features successfully mirrors how US audiences view the country. However, to resonate with audiences outside of America, it should put the people of Iceland front and center in any messaging or marketing campaigns. The population’s willingness to share information about the country should make it simple to find suitable spokespeople.

Travel is also a key component for those inside and outside Iceland. Residents want to welcome tourists, while much of the discourse from those living outside the country centers around vacationing there. There’s an opportunity for brands who affiliate themselves to Icelandic culture to position themselves as an alternative to traveling to the country. For example, Reyka could be more than just a “taste of Iceland”, it can be a less costly alternative to the real thing.

Text analytics helps brands to understand the variations in how different audiences talk. Insights derived from text enable businesses to hone brand positioning towards different groups of consumers – maximizing your chances of generating engagement and driving sales. Try text analysis for yourself by signing up to a free trial now.

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