On my travels I meet various people who operate globally and locally and one of the things I like to question them about is whether they feel that they are in touch with their consumers. Do they trust their brand or brands? I would also ask you the same question – are you successfully engaging with your consumer, do you know them well enough, and more importantly, have you earned their trust?
One of the trends I’ve picked up on is that with growing political uncertainty, with dramatic changes in influential markets such as the US creating a ripple across the globe, consumers are reacting by disengaging from global brands. Are you feeling that?
The consequence of this appears to be a bit like a “hedgehog effect.“ When a hedgehog senses danger, it rolls into a defensive ball. Likewise, in many markets I can see a shift in brand loyalty, where consumers are turning back to their smaller, local, trusted brands. This sense of moving away from the ”global village” and back to a cluster of decentralised markets creates a unique opportunity for smaller, local companies – now is the time to address the community in your brand marketing and stress your locality, which was curiously the very factor that could have hindered your growth in recent past.
For global players, the challenge is in identifying, creating and sustaining a connection with these local communities, and regaining their trust. Localised marketing strategies, increased emphasis on the Point of Sale and a more personalised message will be important contributing factors here. Your local sales teams are the key to this, so rather than being the outpost of your global HQ, see them as the best brand ambassadors you’ve got! They should be nurtured for their local market knowledge and familiarity with the consumer journey at grass roots level.
Empowering your teams on the ground with the tools they need in their local markets each with its own unique characteristics, will be the best way forward and will represent the key to growing sustainable brands in the future.