Demystifying Mindset

With my three decades of multi-country experience across Dubai, Sri Lanka & Seychelles, and of course India I have experienced various mindsets and have dealt with them successfully. I have seen the Arabs in the UAE react positively to Brooke Bond Red Label tea as their favorite Suleimani when I was with JWT in Dubai. And on the other hand, see the Sri Lankan domestic market open its arms to the Anchor brand over a popular Nestle product with a mindset change trigger – ‘the Anchor Mother campaign’. This is when I was the Marketing Director of the New Zealand Dairy Board. There are many examples but my own learning that I want to share with you is that since as PR practitioners we target ‘share of mind’ and ‘desired perception’ in my view mapping the mindsets of your target audience and aligning your communications accordingly is critical to creating a winning strategy.

‘Mindset’ simply means ‘the established set of attitudes held by someone. Another explanation- ‘Mindset is a set of beliefs that shape how you make sense of the world and yourself. It influences how you think, feel, and behave in any given situation’

Therefore, as you sit down to craft your key messages to perfect the stimuli that the communication program would send out to achieve desired outcomes, just pause and analyze your target audience again. Yes, we know the psychographics but look beyond that. Go beyond the banal – attitudes, aspirations, and other psychological criteria and pivot around their mindsets. Will your message resonate? Will your target audience react to the message positively? Will there be resistance because of their mindset? Do you need to tweak your message so that it can be recorded in the way you want it to be decoded?

You can easily do mindset mapping. Do it through sampling, focus groups. You will be surprised at the results. Relearn, recreate, and bingo your PR works.

The mindsets of various markets vary. Mindsets are influenced by geographies, culture, attitudes. Even food and climate have an impact on mindsets, not just the phonetics of language alone!

Let me give you an example.

When I was in Seychelles for 14 years, I created the Public Relations Society of Seychelles (PRSOS) as its Founding President. The members of the Society identified misleading perception creation based on ‘Radyo Banmbou’ (Whisper media) as the biggest problem for communicators. Simply putting it the mindset of the inhabitants of the Small Island State was to rely more on the quick travel of news and developments than what came out in the media. By the time the press note travelled, or the spokesperson gave out the news, it was already out and usually warped!

Do you remember the ‘Chinese Whispers game? When people would gather around in a circle. The first person would whisper ‘Patrick has caught a fish and by the time it got around the circle the last person would say ‘ Patrick has caught a giant whale’? Funny as it may sound, it used to happen in Seychelles very often. A container load of perishables would be en route to Mahe (The main island in Seychelles) and the message going around the ‘Radyo Banmbou’ was- 6 containers landed at the port yesterday and all the perishables were finished!!’

So, what did the PRSOS do to solve this problem? A huge heap of things. It succeeded because most of the members were communicators, and they were committed to a better and more timely flow of information. So, they pre-empted Radiyo Banmbou. Used electronic media to communicate. Radio was immensely popular there. It was on almost 24 hours, in offices, homes, cars, shops. Radio news was a great rebuttal to Radiyo Banmbou!

Mindset towards media news changed vis a vis Radiyo Banmbou. Credibility soared. Everyone won.

Changing Mindset is difficult. In communications, we need to keep hammering credible messages persistently for them to register and resonate.

I end with this inspiring quote for all my fellow PR practitioners. “Do not worry about your difficulties in mathematics. I can assure you, mine are still greater” Albert Einstein

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Amitesh Banerjee
Amitesh is a seasoned positive integrated communications disruptor with several years of multi- country/multi- domain experience. He has worked for reputed organisations in senior leadership positions including JWT, ITC, New Zealand Dairy Board, Seychelles Marketing Board, Perfect Relations, Genesis BCW, Adfactors, Della Group, H+K Strategies among others. Amitesh is Senior Vice President of Beanstalk Asia- a leading Integrated Marketing Communications firm.

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