the akin

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the akin (/əˈkɪn/) is a women-led consumer research and strategy studio based in London. We were founded in 2017 by Sarah Johnson to bring about futures that are intersectionally feminist, ecologically regenerative, and anti-racist.

In addition to client work, the akin publishes multi-disciplinary research on societal shifts, subcultures, technology, creativity and lifestyles. See our work here.

Why we're in business

We are living in a time of great uncertainty, and our futures rely on collective action. If our past has been defined by individualism, colonisation, and exploitation, how will we define our futures?

At the akin we are explicit about the futures we want to design. We're in business to bring about a world that is intersectionally feminist; ecologically regenerative; and anti-racist.

Our philosophy is to live in action, not just in hope. Blind optimism is stasis. Individually and collectively, we must do better than the generations before us. We believe we must use our influence to tip each other towards the futures we want.

Changemaking, changemakers – this is our verb and our people. If you aren’t making change, you aren’t an ally. If you're not building utopias, we’re not the agency for you.

Let's unfuck the world.

How we work

We started the akin because we were brought up in agencies that exploited its workers – especially its Black, Brown, and Women employees – and the communities of culture they claim to champion. We loved the work, but we want to do it in a way we could be proud of.

Our guiding principles

We recognise the role of business in our fight for change. We help purpose-led businesses examine and exploit their sphere of influence to meet business goals and their responsibilities as an powerful actor in our global society.

We use research and insights to drive action. Blind optimism is stasis. We live in action so we edevelop action-oriented strategies so you can live in action too. 

We understand that research isn't neutral or objective, so we are clear about the futures we want and the research needed to back them up. We combine the certainty of quantitative research with the subjective wisdom of qualitative research to ensure our strategies account for knowledge types that sit both within and outside the scientific realm, including knowledge types that are emotionally-informed, care-based, and grounded in duty whether to people, land, or otherwise.

We challenge norms and the status quo because these narratives have been historically used to exploit, or erase marginalised people. So, we prioritise narratives and gazes that have been historically ignored – women, BIPOC, queer, the global south.

We work with researchers that are a part of the community they're researching, allowing conversations to flow freely. This creates an environment to unearth deeper insights from these communities that are not often represented.


We believe in futures (plural!), not a one-world world. We might deliver paradoxical insights or contradictory findings, but we'd rather unearth complex truths than oversimplify a pseudo-reality.

We deliver our work in a way that research participants can be heard in their own words. Whether it’s a film, or a live conversation, we attribute our work to the people we learn from.

We won't share our private work (confidentiality is important), but you can browse our public-facing work here.

How we work

We started the akin because we were brought up in agencies that exploited its workers – especially its Black, Brown, and Women employees – and the communities of culture they claim to champion. We loved the work, but we want to do it in a way we could be proud of.

Our guiding principles

We recognise the role of business in our fight for change. We help purpose-led businesses examine and exploit their sphere of influence to meet business goals and their responsibilities as an powerful actor in our global society.

We use research and insights to drive action. Blind optimism is stasis. We live in action so we edevelop action-oriented strategies so you can live in action too. 

We understand that research isn't neutral or objective, so we are clear about the futures we want and the research needed to back them up. We combine the certainty of quantitative research with the subjective wisdom of qualitative research to ensure our strategies account for knowledge types that sit both within and outside the scientific realm, including knowledge types that are emotionally-informed, care-based, and grounded in duty whether to people, land, or otherwise.

We challenge norms and the status quo because these narratives have been historically used to exploit, or erase marginalised people. So, we prioritise narratives and gazes that have been historically ignored – women, BIPOC, queer, the global south.

We work with researchers that are a part of the community they're researching, allowing conversations to flow freely. This creates an environment to unearth deeper insights from these communities that are not often represented.


We believe in futures (plural!), not a one-world world. We might deliver paradoxical insights or contradictory findings, but we'd rather unearth complex truths than oversimplify a pseudo-reality.

We deliver our work in a way that research participants can be heard in their own words. Whether it’s a film, or a live conversation, we attribute our work to the people we learn from.

We won't share our private work (confidentiality is important), but you can browse our public-facing work here.

offsites
offsites
offsites

is an occasion when you and your team step away from the "office" to immerse yourselves into a community or culture. We specialise in the organisation and facilitation of brand-related offsites that are culturally- competent and safe for the community we're visiting and your team.

workshops
workshops
workshops

help your engage in intensive discussion and activity on a particular subject or project. Our workshops are action-orientate and designed to facilitated to uncover and address socially or politically sensitive brand and innovation conversations.

salon dinners
salon
salon dinners

are an opportunity to allow you and your team to gain otherwise inaccessible insight from the people and experts driving change in your industry. We organise and facilitate intimate dinners for you and your team to engage in semi-facilitated thought-provoking conversation around a specific topic as you share a meal with the Changemakers you've heard about it.

expert insights
expertinsights
expert insights

help us understand how a specific new idea, technology, or framework is impacting our worlds, industries, or communities. Experts help us understand our probable futures and how we can practical influence their field to build the futures we want. Especially important for complex or highly-specialised socio-technical questions.

expansion strategy
expansionstrategy
expansion strategy

a plan for high-level growth driven by a launch into a new market, like a new country, or a new product category.

A good expansion strategy is informed by brand strategy, cultural insights for the new market, and current and future audience typologies.

insight
insight
insight

is a profound and sometimes uncomfortable truth about a person and/ or peoples evidenced by their behaviour, experiences, beliefs, needs and desires.

Insights offer a business opportunities for innovation. Left ignored, insights may become a risk or threat to the business.


brand architecture
brandarch
brand architecture

is a way of organizing a brand's different parts and how they each relate to one other. It helps businesses understand how their products, services or content platforms work together and complement one another.

one-world world
oww
one-world world

The oww [One-World World] is the predominant idea in the West that we all live within a single world, made up of one underlying reality (one nature) and many cultures. Popularised by Arturo Escobar, the one-world world is a demonstration of the West’s imperialist habit to claim it is ‘the world,’ forcing other worlds to confirm to its rules, to diminish them to secondary status or to nonexistence, often figuratively and materially.

quantitative research
quantitativeresearch
quantitative research

is used to answer questions like “how much” or “how many.” Quantitative data is structured, ie numbers and values, making it a more suitable candidate for data analysis.

We conduct quantitative research via surveys, experiments, and market reports.


qualitative research
qualitativeresearch
qualitative research

is used to answer open-ended questions like "why". Qualitative data is un- or semi-structured data – aka messy.

We conduct qualitative research using focus groups, 1:1 interviews, expert interviews, case studies, cultural theory, or cultural narratives.


changemaker
changemaker
changemaker

someone who is embracing, encouraging and proactively creating change.

Changemakers are a subset of Early Adopters who create  future cultural narratives. They are critical allies that help businesses create long-term appeal instead of short-term ‘hype’.


futures
futures
futures

aka trends

are a directional change – a shift in a community's values and/or needs. This shift is felt and seen in culture - behaviours, products, services, events, - on a macro and micro level. Futures are spread by Early Adopters – of which our Changemakers are a specific subset – into the mainstream over time.

We translate these value shifts and emerging needs into a futures framework that businesses can use to inform their strategy execution.

audience typologies
audiencetypologies
audience typologies

are critical business tools that defines a business's audience "types" using behavioural or attitudinal characteristics. This is then combined with quantitative data to define 'how many' or 'how much' of the addressable audience is each "type" so the business can prioritise its resources to acquire or retain each "type".

cultural insights
culturalinsights
cultural insights

helps us understand how the world, an industry, or a community is changing on a macro-level. We use them to contextualise what changes have happened, and how people feel at scale to extrapolate what changes might come, and why. Cultural insights provide clarity to complex systems and help us identify and frame business opportunities.

consumer insights
consumerinsights
consumer insights

help us understand how the world, and industry, or a community is changing on a micro-level. We use researchers from the communities we’re researching to deep dive into how people are feeling about the world around them and why. These consumer insights help us map what these consumers want and need now and in the future.

communication strategy
commsstrategy
communication strategy

a plan to  increase brand awareness or new user acquisition through internal and/or external communication tactics.

A good communication strategy is informed by brand strategy, business strategy, and audience typologies.

innovation strategy
innovationstrategy
innovation strategy

a plan to improve market share, performance or brand perceptions through product or service innovation.

A good innovation strategy is informed by the brand strategy, brand architecture, and audience typologies.

brand strategy
brandstrategy
brand strategy

Critical for a purpose-led business. Brand strategy is a plan to 1/ to increase brand awareness and value and 2/ helps employees stay "on-brand" as they asynchronously prioritise and align their work towards their brand purpose.

A good brand strategy requires a differentiated brand – purpose, mission, and tone-of-voice – and audience typologies.