The meaning of Hummel: A case study of understanding consumers from a cultural analysis perspective

Kweku Sarquah

Student thesis: Master thesis


The Danish sports clothing company Hummel has a long history, dating back to 1923. Because of technical bankruptcy in 1994 Hummel changed strategies, which lead to employing a new creative director Christian Stadil who decided to change Hummel’s identity in 1999. In this paper it is suggested that Hummel’s successful identity transformation leading to revitalization, was caused because of cultural shifts in the Danish society entailing consumers’ ideology shifts. This thesis analyzes how and why the shifts occurred and how Hummel’s brand was able to benefit from them. Furthermore, Hummel’s newest product line named kids is investigated in order to support theory concerning relationships between personal identities and the consumption of Hummel’s products. The characteristics of both Hummel’s branding and Hummel’s customers are presented and analyzed with the purpose of practicing cultural branding as a case study approach, combined with an identity theory concept as a consumer interpretive tool. In order to fulfill the purpose, two analyses are conducted: cultural- and interview analysis. The cultural analysis was conducted through interpretive reading and cross-referencing between specific theories and practical examples. The observation and interviews were conducted with the purpose of capturing individual meanings of Hummel’s brand. The theoretical approaches to the thesis are discussed and applied both as part of a theoretical paradigm construction as well as a part of a thorough analysis of Hummel’s customer’s mental behavior. The core theoretical paradigm is constructed around theories by Grant McCracken, Douglas Holt and Kevin Keller with addition of several others. The findings of this study reveal reasons for Hummel’s successful revitalization, seen from a cultural branding perspective. Hummel’s children clothes are being associated to Hummel’s brand before the revitalization, and this is analyzed as part of individual cultural narratives expressed in interviews. This study’s results are to be interpreted as a pilot study and can therefore not be used as a generalizing result for clothing brands in general because of the small number of interviews and because of Hummel’s unique brand. The study finally presents future challenges for Hummel’s brand to address.

EducationsMSc in Brand and Communications Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2010
Number of pages118