Menu

Global Products, Local Meanings

Written by

Conclusions from exploring the global VOD landscape

Culture is a key factor in how people see and make sense of the world around them. This in turn informs the expectations people have of the objects - including digital technologies - with which they interact.

The meanings of different technologies will change at different times for different people around the world. A mobile phone in rural India, for example, has an entirely different set of meanings when placed in the hands of an American teenager.

To meet the different needs and expectations of users in different regions around the world, it is essential to understand the often complex relationship between people, culture and technology in the different target markets.

This blog series has explored just some of the ways that this relationship shapes the development and consumption of video on demand products in different regions around the world.

Family Watching TV in 1958

A family watching TV in 1958. By Evert F. Baumgardner (Public domain), via Wikimedia Commons

In the USA, an established tradition of prime time television viewing, reinforced by (and reinforcing) the financial value of ad-funding, has a major impact on both the content strategy and structure for many TV networks. Consequently, their VOD products feel almost as much like rich media TV guides promoting the live schedule as they do places to watch content.

In Scandinavia, a mindset which favours functionality and simplicity in design and embraces innovation provides a fertile ground for developing innovative digital products. It has also made them a key market for SVOD services entering Europe.

In Australia an arms race is in progress between SVOD services which have been fighting it out since their respective launches earlier in the year. Key battlegrounds include negotiating content rights and overcoming download caps and speed restrictions imposed by incumbent service providers. So far Netflix seems to have made the most decisive moves in the war to be the biggest streaming service on the block.

‘Phone Home’ by Alessandro Valli on Flickr. Used here under creative commons license.

Phone Home’ by Alessandro Valli on Flickr. Used here under creative commons license.

Brazil, traditionally dominated by the media conglomerate Globo, is starting to see media consumption becoming increasingly fragmented. Although traditional viewing continues to dominate for a vast majority, this trend is particularly noticeable among the upper middle classes and younger audiences, who are moving more towards social media and online video services.

 ‘Texting’ by nSeika on Flickr. Used here under creative commons license. Cropped from original.

Texting’ by nSeika on Flickr. Used here under creative commons license. Cropped from original.

Southeast Asia is an area of massive cultural diversity, and offers a fascinating case study of how religion and culture can influence the ways in which technologies are used and adapted by the users to suit their needs and expectations. Examining these practices challenges any preconceptions of what technology is and what it should do, and evokes a more considered approach to global design.

Cell Phone Envy by Stefano Ravalli on Flickr. Used here under creative commons license.

Cell Phone Envy by Stefano Ravalli on Flickr. Used here under creative commons license.

India is a massive and diverse country with a relatively young population. Similar to other ‘developing’ nations, mobile phones, easier infrastructurally, have been at the forefront of tech development. As this mobile infrastructure becomes more affordable it is providing more opportunities to a greater number of people than ever before in terms of media and communications, and allowing content providers to greatly extend their audience reach.

While some regions share many of these trends and characteristics in common, there are important nuances, which are unique points of difference between areas and demographics, that influence how people use digital technologies and consume content.

As product designers, it is important to make sure that these nuances are reflected in the tools we use to guide our designs, including personas and user journeys, to ensure that we create products which resonate with users in a meaningful way.

By spending time conscientiously researching each region that a product we design lands in, we gain an appreciation of the people and culture within that region, which enables us to build products which are truly international in scope.

Ready to talk to us? Interested in visiting?
Contact hello@ostmodern.co.uk or
call us on +44 (0)203 215 0041