Cultural Capital


Photo by Lysander Yuen on Unsplash

What we know, what we believe, and what we have learnt, affect our purchasing choices, and they affect the types of content and stories we prefer and share. When we want to predict our audiences’ buying behaviour, or figure out what sort of content would interest and engage them, we need to know about their cultural capital: what they think about an issue, what they already know, what they prioritise in their lives — and why.

What is cultural capital?

We own stuff. The things we buy and own, from stationery and appliances, to property and investment products, make up our capital. We also ‘own’ other things, though, like knowledge, memories, skills, biases, and behaviours. Cultural capital could include professional knowledge, like how to prepare a statement of accounts, or understanding the shipping industry. It could include knowledge that’s valuable in a certain social group: like someone being the go-to for a great food or restaurant recommendation. It could be the understanding of how table manners differ across cultures. It could be the level of trust someone places in a particular brand or organisation, or even the way we relate to authority. It could be someone’s opinions and knowledge about organic pet care and pet food. Just like with physical capital, some forms of cultural capital are valued over others depending on social context — for example, some societies consider it useful to have educational qualifications, while in another social context you may be more ‘valuable’ if you know how to farm and raise livestock.

Making cultural capital work for your brand

Does your content help your audiences to acquire cultural capital that helps them thrive in their communities? What would an entrepreneur need to be more effective in her career? How could you interest a dad scrolling through social media on his commute back home, to try a new activity with his kids over the weekend? Do the words you use in your content reflect the words your audiences use when they’re wondering how to solve their problems? Market research helps you learn more about your audience’s cultural capital, and this information is essential when making decisions about content. We can’t build audience relationships without getting to know them. Cultural capital is a great place to start.