Today’s revival of shopping locally goes far beyond the realm of the socially aware consumer. People are taking on board their own responsibility for the current situation and are changing habits. In turn, this directly impacts local businesses, something brands cannot afford to ignore. The Kantar COVID-19 Barometer found that 65% of consumers prefer to shop for local products, while 33% of those surveyed opt for socially responsible brands.
Brands are facing a great challenge, one which, up to now, they have neglected: how to approach consumers locally, in their own neighbourhood, through stores of a different size, features and pace of sales. They have an opportunity to establish a distinct sort of relationship with the consumer, one based on an approach which is more human, straightforward and responsible in the context of the current situation. A new paradigm to be integrated into their branding and sales strategies: how to establish significant bonds with the local community and so enhance brand perception and credibility. Some of the best examples of brands aware of the importance of things local, of proximity, include Mahou’s “Today, more than ever before, supporting the bar” campaign or Ametller Origen’s “Signature Market”, bringing the recipes of the greatest chefs to local neighbourhoods.
In these uncertain times, brands must give their all and inspire creative forms of sales, use or consumption with new options for packaging or promotion, or by innovating with products which think small but impact on a far greater scale. At all events, brands should harness the advantages the consumer has seen in shopping locally, and promote local economies, fostering greater sustainability and a more personal relationship which, in turn, leads to a more relevant connection with the individual and his/her local environment.
There is no doubt that ours are times of change and that all change presents opportunities, opportunities brands cannot afford to miss. To speak to consumers on a local level is, without a doubt, a great way to use branding to be more relevant, significant and human. The brands capable of adapting, of showing such resilience, will be those that reach #beyonthebrand.