Select your language

Podcast
Electricity molecules

How Meaning Changes Over Time – and why that matters

Ujwal Arkalgud, EVP & Group Director at Lux Research

Ujwal Arkalgud

EVP & Group Director, Anthropology

Read Bio
Jason Partridge photo

Jason Partridge

VP, Client Success

Read Bio

Welcome to the inaugural episode of “Why Meaning Matters”—a Story Studio Network podcast hosted by Erin Trafford with MotivBase cultural anthropologist, Ujwal Arkalgud and MotivBase president, Jason Partridge.

In episode one, Erin poses the question, why does meaning matter? And, what do coffee and Bill Gates have anything to do with it?

Listen Now

Subscribe on your favorite platform

Welcome to the inaugural episode of Why Meaning Matters. A Story Studio Network podcast hosted by Erin Trafford with MotivBase cultural anthropologist, Ujwal Arkalgud and MotivBase president, Jason Partridge.

In episode one, Erin poses the question, why does meaning matter? And, what do coffee and Bill Gates have anything to do with it?

Using it as an example to explain how meaning changes over time, Ujwal describes how coffee culture has transformed over the last decade resulting in four to five major vectors of meaning that we consider when buying coffee.

UJWAL [00:02:27] “Was this coffee farmed ethically? Were the workers paid well? You know, what are the tasting notes like? Will this coffee bean work well with whatever intricate machine or system I have at home? There’s so much to it now. And you know, one could argue that the world of coffee has sort of become just as complex as the world of wine or even beer. But I think this is what’s fascinating about how meaning changes over time.” We live with meaning based decisions everyday. JASON [00:03:16] “Even this morning, I think about the pressure that got put on me as I went to a Starbucks and my wife wanted a vanilla latte and the lineup was so big and I’m looking at my watch and I know that we’ve got things to do and kids to get to daycare. And God forbid, I had to just get her a dark roast with milk because I didn’t have time to wait for them to prepare it. And there was this fear and trepidation of me going back with something that just didn’t live up to the expectation.”

Bill Gates wrote in 1996 that, “We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten. Don’t let yourself be lulled into inaction.” UJWAL [00:07:21] “The reason why [the quote is] so powerful is because traditionally speaking, even today, most companies, they predict where culture, where shifts are happening, they use behavior data to predict. And the problem with behavior is it changes a lot in the short-term. And flip-flops a lot and it makes it very difficult to model it.” Jason elaborates on the impact using the example of decisions around purchasing coffee.

More than two decades ago it started with shifts in behavior, consumers wishing to support Fairtrade farming and now it’s associated with meanings of sophistication, worldliness, and more. JASON [00:09:53] “At the end of the day, if you’d make a bet on that short-term behavior change. Which is, in and around something like fair trade farming, if you don’t zoom out and take a look at how that is being impacted by all these different associations, you don’t have the full picture and you don’t have a really clear gamut on what you can be doing to make longterm investment and long-term inroads.” Erin questions what changes have we missed over the last 10 years and Ujwal shares the story of Apple and their white ear buds.

UJWAL [00:11:46] “What the iPod or what Apple very cleverly did, ironically, a couple of years later, their strategy completely pivoted, but what they brilliantly did was they launched their campaign with, first, a white earbud because it was clearly recognizable. I could be walking the streets and people would know that I’m an illegal downloader because I had white earbuds.” Clearly, the symbol of the white earbuds has changed since then because of the meaning we attach to it. As the episode wraps up we look to the future. JASON [00:13:13] “I always like to say that cliches exist for a reason and I love the cliche, you need to see the forest for the trees and, you know, part of studying meaning is really taking that step back and really understanding the full scope of what’s impacting something that matters to you.” As we find ourselves at another global cultural and societal pivot point, “What does this mean for the next 10 years?” Stay tuned for episode two of Why Meaning Matters. If you want to contribute to the conversation, make sure you drop us an email at hello [at] storystudionetwork [dot] com. If you enjoyed this episode, be sure to SHARE it, RATE it, and SUBSCRIBE to the show!

Latest Resources

Sorry, no results found.
Green background for banner

Explore Our Solutions