The trend towards localism goes far beyond people wanting to stay close to home. This represents a complete mindset shift in which consumers feel more emotionally connected to their communities.
This has had an impact on where people want to spend their money. The latest survey of 2,000 of our Nextdoor members – representing one in five households in the UK – found that almost two-thirds (64%) are shopping more locally than two years ago. Naturally, many small businesses jumped at the chance to gain support in the region, shouting loudly about their independence. There is no doubt that local is king and essential to building goodwill in the community.
However, the trend towards localism has also had a major impact on how national brands are perceived and how they need to position themselves to succeed. How can you make the most of this cultural trend? And how should they act and appear locally to be truly accepted as part of the community?
At Nextdoor, we help businesses connect with neighborhoods across the UK. Here are six guiding principles to help marketers increase their impact and engagement in a local world.
1.) Give back
National brands are increasingly expected to go above and beyond to support the areas they have been asked to do business in, with nearly three-quarters (69%) of Nextdoor members expecting them to raise funds for local causes. Co-op is a great example of a company that is celebrated for its community fundraising – raise over £100m to support local communities. Other ways to give back include sponsoring football teams, visiting schools or picking up litter to help the local environment. Modern consumers expect a two-way exchange of value.
2.) Demonstrate impact
National brands need to enhance the impact they have in the local area, whether it’s creating jobs or improving mobile coverage. Local people will be more receptive to brands when they understand their individual contributions to building a strong community. Over the past month, announcements of store openings by Trespass, Screwfix, Hobbycraft, Card Factory and Home Bargains have all led to job creation.
3.) Create Connections
With people feeling more connected to their local areas, brands have the opportunity to form more meaningful relationships by showing how much they care about towns, cities and towns across the country. It can be as simple as referencing local landmarks, offering deals for nearby tourist attractions, or using more emotive language in relation to the area. Our research revealed that two-thirds (65%) expect national chains in their region to tailor their products and services to the local community. Zoopla is a good example of an online brand updating neighborhood names to further personalize its messaging and engage consumers.
4.) Treat Each Area Differently
Each neighborhood is unique and must be approached differently. Urban audiences, for example, have very different lives than those living in rural communities, and companies need to tailor their marketing accordingly. There is significant room for improvement here, with only 23% of our members saying national channels in their region show an understanding of local nuances. However, it’s not all about brands, as ad platforms can provide insights to help them deliver the right messages to the right places.
5.) Get to know the community
National brand marketing teams can find themselves guessing what local people need and want. Market research can of course provide useful information, but it will never be the same as real-world feedback and engagement with neighbors, businesses, and utilities. These are real people with real lives – not just numbers.
6.) Be respectful
National brands can find their place in the local ecosystem alongside independent stores. Tesco, for example, got it right when beer gardens opened for the first time since lockdown by running an advert encouraging people to visit their local pub.
Companies that care for those around them and find their own role within the local community will build brand loyalty. By carefully considering how they appear, act and behave locally, they will become an important part of strong, vibrant and resilient neighborhoods.
By Paps Shaikh, Commercial Director EMEA, Nextdoor