London may be the nation’s capital - nobody can underestimate the importance of that - but many marketing opportunities exist for those living outside of it.
Undoubtedly, the capital city has a reputation as an opinion-forming, trend-setting centre - unsurprising perhaps as all the major TV networks, national radio stations and national press offices are based there.
So, when it comes to experiential campaigns - especially where PR is a major output - London still holds most of the power.
However, when it comes to consumer engagement, London may not be the best place for it.
London consumers are increasingly hurried and generally, have less time to promote and less interested in engaging promotional activity.
Some 87% of the UK’s population live beyond the M25 and there are 69 other cities in the UK, many with huge (one million plus) populations.
For brands seeking high footfall areas, non-London centres could actually be better suited to a brand’s values or brief, as they can offer more specialism.
For brands seeking to attract a GenZ audience, they should consider approaching one of the 150 student hubs in the UK; whereas for a tech story, Bristol with its Smart City programme or Cambridge's Silicon Fen - home to large cluster of high-tech businesses could be more suitable.
Alternatively, for brands looking to tap into the art or culture zeitgeist, cities like Brighton and Hove, or Liverpool might be more apt and could even meet the location brief better than parts of London could.
Of course, holding an activation of some sort in a city outside of London will hugely reduce costs, with London's pricing coming up three or four times more expensive than elsewhere.
At The Producers, we recently ran a panel discussion with four brand-side marketeers who have a strong regional strategy and are innovating in the events and experiential sector.
These included Fiona McPherson, marketing manager at LEGO; Richard Exton, head of regional marketing at Nando’s; Rachel Hall, media director at PinTarget - who all believed that as an industry, we need to pop the London bubble and venture out of the city more.
Between them, three golden rules were identified for developing a successful regional experiential strategy. Take these on board and you can't go wrong.
- Do your homework: Work with a local coach to understand the nuances of an area before activating your campaign.
- Understand what’s important to people: Whether you use local staff to resonate with people, or decide to change your campaign to fit what's important in another region, don’t employ a one-size-fits-all approach. Be adaptable.
- Don’t assume behaviours are the same up and down the country: Be aware that these could be limited to one region. Take London's commute for instance, which is largely impacted because of so many people living within one concentrated area. In other parts of the country, over 50% of people drive to work everyday. Make sure you understand how your audience behaves in order to target them effectively.
Emily Koppit, group account director at The Producers.