Brands need Communities


By Colin Gilchrist, Digital Strategy Planner

February 9, 2011 | 3 min read

“People no longer congregate in the community hall or local church, so brands have an opportunity here to fill that void” Magnus Willis, Sparkler.

I think it was Maggie Thatcher who coined the phrase “Buy British”. I’m not a fan nor interested in whether you like her or not, the point is – it now has merit in the hearts of you and I.

Are you making a point of working with businesses on your doorstep or seeking out apples grown in the UK?

I recently sent a colleague to a trends seminar at LCF (London College of Fashion) to hear Fiona Jenvey from Mudpie. Fiona and her team identified this decade (2010 – 2020) to be the age of the conscious, a reaction to the previous decade, the age of consumption – rise of celebrity culture and hedonism. The age of conscious will entail sustainability, uncertainty (financially and politically) but that heritage, nostalgia and investing in quality luxury products and services would be more prevalent.

After years of brand globalisation and mass produced throw away products, supporting and being local has now become more important to consumers than ever before. The recession of the last 24 months has left people wanting to feel part of something physical, tangible and local. Individuals want to feel connected to where they live and take part in local events, according to research by co-creation research agency Promise. A direct quote from Konstantin Pinaev, senior consultant at Promise, said: “People want to feel part of something because it’s about safety and security. This is a natural reaction to the credit crunch.”

Big global brands in reaction to this and the onslaught of location based social tools such as “Gowalla“, “Foursquare“, “Facebook Places“… have attempted with limited success to encourage local consumers to their High Street. But it was quickly established that people feel uneasy about being tracked and tapped into (Magnus, Sparkler). So they need to make a point of using and promoting locally sourced products and services and not just the supermarkets. I want to know that the chip in my iPlayer came from Wolfson in Edinburgh or that my can of Coke was shipped from a plant in East Kilbride and it appears I’m not the only one. So brands need to make more of an effort, or maybe there’s another way:

I recently stepped across the threshold of my local Library to offer my time as a “Surgeon” at a Social Media Surgery, the atmosphere was great and the place was buzzing; the “Patients” were largely looking for help with loads of different community projects.

Am I wrong to think that community projects and big brands should be skipping down the street holding hands?


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