Thinking local

In a city where people can barely make eye contact, it was a surprise to hear a group of London consumers talk about a desire to get closer to their communities.

Jo Roberts
Jo Roberts

At a recent Promise expert forum that I attended, there was a wide range of people in attendance, from the so-called “influencers” who seem to live their lives on Twitter, to a mum with two children, who has struggled through the recession.

But almost without exception, everyone talked about getting closer to their local community in different ways. Some wanted to learn new skills by taking up a hobby, while others talked about having more social interaction by organising dinner parties at home for their friends.

Others spoke excitedly about how technology was allowing them to live completely different lifestyles than previously, linking to communities with common interests rather than thinking about community as their next-door neighbours.

The co-creation event was an interesting way to observe how people talk about their lives, and their hopes for the future. While brands are trying to outdo each other by developing snazzy technology, many people at the forum talked about getting back to the ’simple life’ or the ’good old days’.

This, say the Promise researchers, is a natural reaction to the recession. Konstantin Pinaev, a senior consultant at Promise says: “People want to feel part of something because it’s about safety and security. This is a natural reaction to the credit crunch.”

But this doesn’t mean that bigger brands and retailers have to miss out on this trend. In this week’s cover story, I explore how some brands are already getting more local in their outlook. Location-based tools like Foursquare are being used by some high street chains to create a much more local feel to their marketing strategy. Debenhams has signed up, and every time someone ’checks in’ to his or her local department store they can claim a free coffee once a week – a simple way of creating loyalty at a local level.

Other brands are trying to get to know local communities by facilitating local football training, like Tesco and McDonald’s. Both companies encourage their employees to get involved with their schemes too. High-street retailers are talking much more about local produce to their shoppers.

What the Promise forum indicated to me is that this craving by consumers for closer connections with communities is something that is only going to get stronger throughout this year. As a result, brands will have to learn to adapt their outlook to think a lot more about the local communities in which they operate.

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here