Farewell, Polska!

Sarah

Sarah

Immersing ourselves in the Polish culture through visits to malls, city centers, historical and cultural locations has taught us a lot about the Polish consumer. Using ethnographic methods, we observed and interacted with shoppers, ultimately leading us to a better, richer understanding of their consumption habits and values. One thing that we noticed throughout the trip was Poles consideration of price. During our lecture at the Krakow University of Economics, we learned that cost is usually the most important factor while making purchases. People here are less likely to let a brand determine whether they will buy it; they often rely solely on what will be the cheapest option. This mentality was reinforced at each of the shopping centers we visited, as nearly all stores featured prominent advertisements of sales and discounts. Though this is partially due to the post-Christmas markdowns we also see in the States, we noticed that the prices were almost more important than the products themselves.

Maria

Maria

We have also experienced that the Polish population in general is much less open and friendly than people of other countries are (specifically, the United States). Most of the people we have talked to agree with this observations; they have noticed that we, as Americans, laugh and smile openly much more often that the local people.

Agencies in Poland use these two notions (Poles “closed” demeanor and sensitivity to price) in their advertisements. They know to use functional (as opposed to emotional) appeals in their ads. During our visit to the agency, one of our hosts said that they adapt their advertisements to emphasize functionally instead of feelings.

Nick

Nick

We also have observed that Poles appreciate convenience. Each of the shopping centers we visited included a large store that sold groceries, clothing, workout equipment, electronics, home products and more. These retailers were only accessible from inside the mall, so many consumers were able to visit the mall for everything on their shopping list. Instead of traveling to many different locations to pick up all the goods they need, consumers here find malls to be a one-stop shop. Because the Polish utilize mass transit more than Americans in many cities do, this convenience allows shopping to be a quick and easy experience. In studying our product category, we found that even health club facilities are usually located near or within malls–after work, consumers are able to stop by the mall for a workout, a new outfit and food for dinner without even leaving the same building!

Jenny

Jenny

In addition to our research about consumerism, advertising and promotion, we have also gotten the chance to learn so much about Polish history while visiting this beautiful country. We’ve learned about the hardships the population has faced, making us appreciate it’s current state even more. In Krakow, we immersed ourselves in the rich history of Old Town, Wawel Castle, Auschwitz and other monumental locations. In Warsaw, we’ve seen evidence of the country’s more recent work rebuilding the capitol after complete destruction in WWII. It has truly opened our eyes to a part of the world much different than our home, and has been an experience that has added so much to our Drake education. Thanks for following our blog throughout our trip!

Na zdrowie!

Maria, Sarah, Nick and Jenny

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Highlights of Poland

Throughout the two weeks we’ve spent in Poland, we have had the chance to experience many new things. We’ve tasted unfamiliar foods, seen beautiful, historic buildings and heard the accounts of many Polish locals. Below, we have detailed a few of our most memorable trip moments.

Rynek Market Square

Christmas Market in Rynek Square

Christmas Market in Rynek Square

Old Town Krakow is centered around Rynek Główny (Rynek Square for us English-speakers). During our first week in Poland, much of our down time was spent exploring all this beautiful plaza has to offer: shops, restaurants, pubs, historic monuments and more. We attended mass at the square’s church, St. Mary’s Basillica, and shopped for souvenirs at the Cloth Hall market. We tried out underground restaurants featuring traditional Polish food, and learned about the square’s giant head monument while on our city tour.

Festival of the Epiphany crowd

Crowd surrounding the Nativity reenactment during the Festival of the Epiphany

My favorite visit to Rynek Square was during the Festival of the Epiphany. Before we even reached the plaza, we could tell we were in for an exciting day. A Christmas market was set up outside of the Cloth Hall, where small small stands sold trinkets made in Poland and every variety of Polish food you can imagine. The smell of sizzling meats, fresh pastries and hot drinks was enough to distract you from the Parade of the Three Kings taking place nearby, where they handed out tasty gingerbread cookies. A large crowd had gathered to watch a live Nativity display, and a few of us spent a while among the crowd listening as they sang familiar Christmas carols in Polish. It was amazing to see a city come together to celebrate religious holiday so dear to their hearts, unlike anything I’ve had the chance to experience in the States.

Maria Opatz

Churches of Poland

St. Mary's Basilica in Krakow

St. Mary’s Basilica in Krakow

With roughly 90 to 95% of Poland’s population being Catholic, it would be a major challenge to walk the streets of Krakow or Warsaw and not run into a church or chapel. The religious monuments of Poland have stood their ground for centuries yet remain extravagant, reverent, and a true sign of the country’s dedication to God and in some cases, a memorial to their past.

When we had the opportunity to go to mass at St. Mary’s Basilica in Krakow, we entered to the sight of many dedicated locals worshiping on the feast of the Epiphany. Our eyes were immediately redirected to the towering ceilings covered in gold, colors of blue, and paintings of religious figures. The entrancing smell of incense filled the air and the deep sounds of an all-male choir echoed through its walls.

A wall of a church showing bullet holes from a former Nazi execution.

A wall of a church showing bullet holes from a former Nazi execution.

Jumping forward a week to our arrival in Warsaw, we saw a memorial located right outside Old Town that honors the courage of the individuals who fought during the Warsaw Uprising. Adjacent to the memorial is a church that was rebuilt post WWII; however, its foundation remains. The front wall of the church has kept its original form and serves as a symbol of remembrance. Four hundred and thirty innocent Poles were shot and killed against its steps. Bullet holes still parade its side. Sadly a total of 200,000 lives were taken during this rebellion lasting from 1940-1943. With a church in its place, it ensures that although these lives were taken, they will never be forgotten.

Nick Gral

Auschwitz-Birkenau

Our class spent a whole day at Auschwitz and Birkenau. This day will be imprinted into our minds forever.

Entrance to Auschwitz

Entrance to Auschwitz

As soon as our class stepped past the gate into Auschwitz, there was an instant silence that came over all of us. While walking down the roads connecting each barrack, we could only hear the soft, somber voice of the tour guide along with snow crunching underneath our feet. Each step we took got us closer to the next building holding what seemed to be a worse fate than the last. We walked down the stairs of the death block, warped and so warn down from the hundreds of thousands of people that had taken these deathly steps before us into the gas chamber. Unlike them we were able to go down into these chambers and live to talk about the experience.

Vent where Zyklon-B would dispense in gas chamber

Vent where Zyklon-B would dispense in gas chamber

These chambers were bone-chillingly cold and empty. All that could be seen were the holes in the ceiling that would release Zyklon-B, killing some instantly and others in less than 20 minutes.

Even though Auschwitz is now empty I could still imagine the screams of the prisoners taking their last breath, one no easier to hear than another.

Walking into Birkenau brought a similar, sick-to-your-stomach feeling. Once in Birkenau, it was obvious that there was no escaping this place. The amount of space that Birkenau took up was unimaginable—Auschwitz was large but nothing compared to Birkenau. You could easily stand in the middle of the camp and barely be able to see the barbed wire fence holding you in.  Here, you could only walk through a few of the barracks because the majority of them were destroyed by the Nazis (along with the gas chambers and crematories) at the end of the war. We were able to see the chimneys and displaced bricks

Panoramic of Birkenau

Panoramic of Birkenau

throughout the hundreds of yards the camp occupied. Walking past the trenches, another barrier for the prisoners, it was easy to imagine the smell and stench this camp exuded.

About 67 years ago these camps were filled with hundreds of thousands of prisoners awaiting their fate. Instead, these camps are now filled with tour groups and only the rubble of and stories of what was.

Sarah Laughlin

Warsaw 

IMG_1765Warsaw was completely different from Krakow in that it is a much larger city with a faster pace. We were moving quickly to validate our tickets and to jump on and off the confusing public transportation system in order to not end up trapped inside. The transportation helped with the freezing cold temperatures which allowed us to see our breath, much like that of the many smokers we encountered as we inhaled their secondhand smoke.

We celebrated our arrival with a dinner with students from the University of Warsaw where we enjoyed a variety of Polish delicacies from pirogues to kebabs to chicken cooked in

DSC02538every way imaginable. The clinks from our glasses as we saluted our new friends will be a life-long memory.

While these celebratory times were not few and far between as the images of Old Town after the Second World War silenced us as the entire area was in cleared from German bombs. The tour of the Warsaw Ghetto really humbled us as our tour guide told us of the tragic death of thousands of Jews.

Jennifer C. Bailey

Draft FCB + University of Warsaw

After a few days of sightseeing and exploring Warsaw, we were finally able to visit our first Polish advertising agency during today’s excursion. We traveled by metro and bus to the Warsaw chapter of Draft FCB, one of the world’s largest communications IMG_2096agency networks. It was an awesome opportunity for the advertising students in our group to get a glimpse into international advertising and compare the Polish agency to those we have seen back in the States. Though our 26-person class outnumbered their small, 16-person office, we were happy to find seats in meeting spaces and creative rooms to hear from a few of their staff.

Draft FCB creatives

Draft FCB creatives

Myself and eight others met with Monika, an account executive at Draft FCB. In typical account exec fashion, she was eager and excited to answer our questions (and ask a few in return). We chatted about the advertising industry in Poland, the agency’s major clients and campaigns, the public perception of marketers, the Polish culture and more. She explained to us that though many of their work comes from the international Draft FCB hub in Germany, the Warsaw chapter’s role is to adapt the ads to fit the Polish consumer. This includes using lots of numbers and statistics, as Poles are very impressed and persuaded by facts and explanations of the functional uses of products.

After our meeting and a tour of the office, our class ventured on to the University of Warsaw’s Faculty of Management (much like Drake University’s College of Business and Public Administration). Here, during the second university visit of our trip, we were dispersed among Polish students as we listened to a presentation given jointly by a Polish professor of Consumer Behavior and the two professors accompanying us. Our lecture focused on the uses of social media in both countries; I was surprised to see that the platforms Poles use to chat and share were very different than those we use in the USA. Though Facebook topped both lists and Google+ and Twitter are recognized in both countries, the other major networks varied. The stats were as follows:

Top Social Networking Sites

USA: 1. Facebook  2. Blogger  3. Twitter  4. WordPress  5. LinkedIn  6. Pinterest  7. Google+

Poland: 1. Facebook  2. NK  3. Gazeta.pl  4. Google+  5. Gadu Gadu  6. Goldenline  7. Twitter

University of Warsaw's Faculty of Economics building

University of Warsaw’s Faculty of Economics building

This lecture, unlike our experience at Krakow’s University of Economics, allowed us to chat with students and hear their perspective. The young women I spoke with were very confused by the concept of Twitter; they felt as though there was no reason for any additional social sites if they were similar to Facebook, which has clearly monopolized their time spent online. They were also fascinated by the professional aspect of LinkedIn, and were surprised to learn that Poland already has a similar site.

Because social media has become such an integral part of American culture and media, it was hard for me to think about the Polish sites that America has not even explored using; from our conversations, it seemed as though the Polish students felt the same way. Today’s class and agency visit were both very helpful in showing us more of the “big picture” of the country’s communications industry that we are here to explore.

Maria Opatz

New friends and exploring Warsaw

Last night, we met up with a few students from the University of Warsaw. We met them in our hotel lobby, and all of us were definitely a little nervous meeting students we had never talked to before. According the them, we had a “5 minute” walk to the restaurant we would be dining at, which ended up being closer to 15 minutes. Before even arriving at the restaurant, our long walk gave us a chance to become acquainted with our new friends.

The Polish students decided we would eat at Pod Wawelem, a classic Polish beer hall.

Sitting with our new friends at dinner

Sitting with our new friends at dinner

Sitting and talking to them was a great experience, especially to hear a student perspective. None of these students had lived through the Nazi occupation, but they had heard stories from their grandparents and other family members.

The girl I was sitting next to, Agnus, was 20 and studying management at the University of Warsaw. She was born and raised in Warsaw. Out of all the things we talked about, one that really stuck with me was how bitter she was about the tainted history of Warsaw. She was a very bubbly and kind person, but the destruction that occurred there was something that really bothered even a warm soul like hers. She said she had traveled to other cities like Paris, Rome and even Krakow, and felt it was so unfair that these countries had historical monuments and buildings that had been there for so long. Most of Warsaw was completely destroyed during the war.

However, she mentioned one advantage of the country’s reconstruction: it made way for a many new things. In Warsaw, they are able to construct buildings with many floors and of larger sizes. She said in Krakow they are limited in space because majority of buildings must be preserved as-is. That is why many pubs and restaurants are in the basement of the buildings, and don’t go up extremely high.

Escalators in the mall today

Escalators in the mall today

Overall, we learned a lot from meeting with students from Warsaw University. They had just as much interesting information about their hometown as we were able to share with them. It was a great way to really immerse ourselves into a whole different culture, speaking to actual people who live here.

Today, we visited a mall called Zlote Tarasy. It was similar to the previous two malls we have visited in that it was very new and modern. However, this mall was a lot busier, with more people. People moved quickly and swiftly throughout the mall and never slowed down. Many traveled with backpacks and larger bags. This could of been related to the fact that the train station was only meters away and they were doing their shopping during lunch or after work. This mall had everything you could possibly imagine; the variety of stores was wider than the previous malls. Many of the stores were international brands, which makes sense as Warsaw is frequented by international travelers and businessmen. The people in Zlote Tarasy were definitely on a mission and wanted to get their shopping done quickly.

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Outside of Zlote Tarasy mall

Exploring Warsaw

Today we had the opportunity to experience the sights and sounds of Warsaw, Poland. At a chilly twenty degrees, it proved to be a challenge to stay warm; however, our numb hands and feet came second to the amazing history and architecture that comprises of Old Town Warsaw.

During our excursion, one part stood out to me the most. While getting off the city bus we stepped towards a public art exhibit. Located along a walkway leading towards Old Town, the exhibit showed pictures of the devastation that hit Warsaw during World War II. Buildings were demolished, public streets shredded, and the entire city looked as if a tornado headed straight for its path. The city of Warsaw undoubtedly went through great pain and loss as it clearly showed.

A picture from the local exhibit.

A picture from the local exhibit.

As I glanced upon the shocking photographs I noticed in the corners and finer points of the pictures things such as individuals walking to work, bricks neatly stacked multiple feet high, and big chunks of stone being hauled away by a horse. Thinking about it for a moment I came the conclusion that these finer points were the strongest examples of Poland’s endurance through adversity. Although being hit by mass destruction from an unforgiving German force, Poland continued on.

A quote that is near and dear to me was once said by famous Green Bay Packer coach Vince Lombardi: “The greatest success is not in succeeding, but rising after you fall.” I am reminded of this quote because it sums up Poland’s post-war journey. As a country they found themselves fallen and bruised, yet through unity and dedication, rebuilt their city and most importantly their lives. And that- winning the piece-by-piece, brick by brick, inch-by-inch fight- is without a doubt the greatest success.

-Nick Gral

Welcome to Warsaw!

We waved good-bye to our hotel in Krakow to begin our long and incredibly bumpy ride to Warsaw. Partway we stopped in Lodz to visit the Museum Sztuki. This museum was mainly modern art, and showed the history of Poland from top to bottom. The museum staff recommended beginning at the top floor and working our way down.

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As one of the oldest modern art museums in the world it appeared to be rather new on the interior. The floors told the story of Poland through paintings, sculptures, videos and photos. Many of these had advertisements about the Polish revolution. In one room there was a large sculpture that looked like a street cart stand that was covered in advertisements and different symbols of the revolution.

A lot of the artwork was on the darker side, due to the Russian influence in Poland at the time implying the mood of the artists. The Russian influence was also very strong in Warsaw as well.This influence was seen everywhere from castles, to memorials. Krakow was very different from this as we did not see as many Russian influences besides the excessive amount of fur. Just in our short bus tour around the city we saw many differences from the age of the buildings as most of Warsaw had been destroyed during the Second World War, but had been rebuilt. In Krakow we did not see as many skyscraper buildings as we did in Warsaw as well as a great number of digital advertisements on LCD screens at the top of buildings such as Coca-Cola, and LG.

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The city also appeared to be more spread out as we were walking back to our hotel, with lots of tourist traps with street vendors and millions of Christmas lights.We kept joking about purchasing miniature sleds we saw many of the children riding on while their parents pulled the around to soothe our aching feet. Something that will be very helpful in the coming days are the city maps that are strategically placed all over the city. Krakow did not have these, which allowed us to get lost easier when some of the streets wind and twist in a million directions.

We head out bright and early for our walking tour on what is supposed to be the coldest day of the week! Check back tomorrow for an update!

Jennifer C. Bailey

Week 1: Complete!

Immersing oneself in a culture is an important part of understanding their customs, beliefs and values. It is essential to have a strong grasp of a society’s historical and cultural makeup when, as advertisers, we attempt to understand their consumer behavior (desiring, searching for, purchasing and using consumer products). Each day in Poland, we have done our best to immerse ourselves in the Polish culture in some way that will ultimately help us to wrap our heads around the country’s exercise and health club culture.
We began our time here learning all we could about the country’s history; we visited Auschwitz and Wawel Hill, took a city tour and discussed the country’s past struggles. From our experience, we made the conclusions that while leisure exercise (yoga, pilates, body building, etc.) have only become accessible relatively recently, people may be hesitant to spend the money they now have on exercise memberships or products.
Our lecture by a professor from Krakow’s University of Economics confirmed this thought; she stated that only about one out of three Polish people exercise on a regular basis. She believes this is because the people would prefer to spend time with family, watching TV, or participating in other activities. This notion helped us to understand the alternatives our consumer has to choosing products in our category.
Pure Health & Fitness Facility

Pure Health & Fitness Facility

Finally, our ethnographic excursions have taught us about Polish use of gyms and exercise equipment. This morning, we visited a fitness club called Pure near Krakow’s Bonarka City Center. We spoke with a manager and toured the facility, leading us to a few conclusions. First, that the consumer of these memberships is motivated by looks, rather than simply health benefits. While in most American gyms one would find individuals exercising in grungy clothes, the majority of these exercisers donned high-end sporting apparel. They likely value looking good just as much as (if not more than) feeling good. The club’s location also gave us hints about the industry–Pure has locations in two Krakow neighborhoods that are experiencing very rapid growth and urbanization. This may correlate with an increasing appreciation for exercise and it’s health benefits.
Our exploration of our category’s consumer will continue as we travel to Warsaw tomorrow. Stay tuned!
Maria Opatz

Exercise in Poland

Looking into our product category has been a little more difficult thus far in Poland. Walking around and looking in magazines, newspapers, etc we were really not finding any advertisements. This seemed strange considering all the advertisements focused on fitness that we are used to seeing in the United States.

The first time we actually interacted with our product was in the first mall we went to. The exercise equipment was quite smaller and less bulky than we are used to. It wasn’t the focus in the store either, it was more of a small collection because it related to the other products in InterSports store. The equipment we found was also a lot cheaper than we are used to seeing. Only 100-400 zloty which is equivalent to about 30-130 dollars.

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The problem with our category is that this is not something that would be commonly found in malls. We need to go out and search for specific clubs in the area. Tomorrow we will be heading out on the tram and taxi scoping out specific clubs. From our research currently it seems that different exercises are broken up into different locations. For example, yoga, power lifting, and more running/cardio seem to be separate.

Yesterday we received a handout at the mall about a fitness club. We thought this was an interesting place to be giving out collateral. Tomorrow we are going to seek out this club and see what it is all abou

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After going to the economics lecture today at the Economic University of Krakow we found out some extremely useful information that can be used in our studies. Only 2/3 of Polish people participate in physical activity. This is not something they see as important and don’t believe in using it as prevention for things such as disease, etc. While going to the clubs tomorrow we are going to see how they seek out members and advertise to them if this is something not considered important in Poland’s culture.

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Sarah Laughlin

Bonarka City Center

After traveling to one of Krakow’s busiest shopping malls, Galeria Krakowska, today we were immersed in another shopping center. Located just twenty minutes south of the Galeria, Bonarka City Center has proven to be one of the “prides of Krakow” in the industrial scene due to its exponential growth.

In just fifteen months it has nearly doubled in size and has attracted a plethora of clientele. With improvements made to the local bus system leading to the shopping mall, it is now more accessible to the public. This is in part why the year-over-year value of the property is record breaking and predicted to only go up from this point on. While there, our group focused on the consumer experiences of those present, particularly the 45+ age group.

Bonarka City Center entrance.

Bonarka City Center entrance.

Although some minor and others more obvious, we noticed several things pertaining to the age set. One benefit to this group was Bonarka’s layout. Stores were categorized and sectioned off based on targeted markets. With high-end jewelry, fur coats, and other specialty products in a close proximity, sporting wear, children’s clothes, and other “younger” apparel was in another. Next, this age group was highly product driven as opposed to the younger generations who were present on more of a social basis.  Not even taking their jackets off in an overheated mall, it was apparent that shoppers of this set were to the point and sought to be in and out.

Finally, their need for efficiency was aided by Bonarka’s large store displays. With the walls of stores most entirely made of glass, displays clearly notified shoppers of not only what goods were available but also how much they cost. This is different to what we’ve become accustomed to in America: fancy displays designed to draw the customer into the store before weighing the good’s price. In entering the store we become more susceptible to the lure of salespeople, discounts, and other enticements.

These points are in contrast to our experience in Glaeria Krakowska.  There the 45+ age group consisted of more business professionals. The majority carried their briefcases along their side and many were seen meeting other professionals for lunch. In addition, the overall consumer experience was more limited for the age group. Aside from there being a significantly younger crowd, Galeria did not serve as a “one stop shop” like Bonarka. One could potentially go into Bonarka needing everything from home goods, to toothpaste, and a Swiss watch and accomplish the task.

Aside from observing the consumer experience, we kept and eye out for advertisements relating to our group’s focus of sporting equipment and health club memberships. For the first time on our trip, advertisements were readily noticeable. First we noticed multiple advertisements in and around the mall itself and additionally, personal handouts and flyers were given to shoppers that pertained a separate, nearby fitness club.

A health club advertisement in Bonarka City Center.

A health club advertisement in Bonarka City Center found in the upper left corner.

With a few remaining days in Krakow before our departure to Warsaw, we are anxious to see what awaits us!

Nostrovia.

-Nick Gral

Interactive Mall Technology

This is the interactive map inside of Bonarka mall in Krakow, Poland. This mall is taking full advantage of easing their consumers into a stress free shopping experience by giving them all the information they need. Placed all throughout the mall these interactive stands will tell you information such as where the shop is located, specific directions to that shop, information about each store, etc. Overall, a great way to guide customers through their shopping experience. Check this video out for a quick example of the technology.