The Secret Marketer: national brands should support local community

Secret Marketer

We have reached the start of what promises to be the most amazing summer in the UK… ever!

Before the London Olympics get under way, we have the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee to celebrate. My partner and I are busy organising a street party to mark the occasion. I am still not sure whether we volunteered or were appointed by our neighbours because, as an HR director, she is “good with people” and marketing is “all about parties”.

We have a great day planned, including a long line of tables (provided by the local church), everyone bringing their own food and drink to share, bunting flying across the street, three bands booked, a children’s entertainer, face painting, crown making, giant Jenga and Splat the Rat.

None of these national brands could see the benefit of supporting their local community

However, this all costs money. So as the commercial member of the duo, I am raising funds by creating a commemorative programme that carries paid-for advertising and arranging a raffle with prizes donated by local businesses.

And this is my point. Our prime minister talks about the Big Society, which I think means everyone working together for the greater good and everyone investing in their local communities, but it isn’t working. Not in our case, anyway.

We live in a relatively built-up area, with a large number of high street retailers and all the national brands within easy reach.

We also have three major grocery retailers – all of which are likely to see an increase in custom from the 400 or so guests buying their party food in these outlets – very near our street – but none of these national brands could see the benefit of supporting their local community.

Interestingly, the majority of local stores were not empowered to make decisions about donating £150, yet head offices could not get out of bed to deal with such a paltry sum of money.

Fortunately, a sufficient number of local businesses – the entrepreneurs – got my sales pitch that communities support those that support them. Restaurants, the local pub and other local retailers have all dug deep.

Have the big brands, including the one I work for, lost touch with those who buy our products? Has our drive to cut costs resulted in local retail managers being completely impotent? Are we so focused on price that we have forgotten there are other Ps in the marketing mix that influence buying decisions?

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