National and Local business…what most chains don’t recognize

25 10 2012

We see and deal with them every day. Chains or National Brands that litter the malls and landscape in our communities. From restaurants to grocery stores and everything in between. Some are widely recognized and some because of growth may be new to us but familiar to others. THIS is where the story begins and is a fatal flaw in most if not all National brands.

Let’s take a brand most are familiar with Starbucks. If you have never been then just follow along because I am sure you can relate this to just about any business you frequent. I tend to go to one of three Starbucks locations in the area. There are more, and from time to time I may visit the others for a meeting or because I happen to be in the area and want a coffee. But for the most part I have my three locations. Each one is laid out basically the same and serves the same drinks. While there may be a slight difference in the way it tastes from one location to another there is little difference. I will tell you though that each location has a different “vibe”. That one thing that no matter how hard they try, national chains can NOT replicate between locations. Location A may have the same look and drinks and layout as the original at Pikes Place, but the “vibe” may be totally different. Some of it has to do with the clientele, some of it has to do with the staff, some of it just has to do with how the location has evolved and where it’s located. My local Starbucks is an eclectic mix. During the day it is older semi retired types who look to be mostly self employed or are consultants who sit with their newspapers one minute and laptops next checking e-mails, stocks, and possibly doing some business. Then there are the types like me who are content creators, online business types who will be there most of the morning tapping away and then studying numbers and charts, then going back to websites and e-mail to tweak things for the day. A little bit after mid afternoon the high school kids roll in after a hard day in school to get that mid afternoon boost.They bring skateboards, music, and loud conversation and basically run off the early morning crowd. They hang out the rest of the day but are joined by the college crowd later after about dinner time in study groups or one off students who have their text books in one hand and laptop in front of them all while taking notes. and this happens most days Monday thru Friday at this location.

Compare that to the other location I frequented for a while a few miles away where the morning crowd consisted of older folks who were computer literate and were checking e-mails and reading the paper, but were also joined by a book club, and dotted with a few high schoolers getting an early morning coffee. Also local workers from other stores in the area stopped in to grab a coffee and snack. At night the crowd is older and ranged from Church groups socializing to bikers sitting out front talking and a couple of families lounging inside. It is a much older and more diverse crowd than say my usual starbucks. They also offer live music, book signings and more at this location, something not offered at the other location.

Why do I mention all this? Because if you notice they are both Starbucks, but both are very different and need to cater to the different clientele. Staff wise both should be staffed different, and both could have their own Fan page, and advertising locally. Both could play to the types of crowds they draw and hire staff that fit the demographics of the clientele. At the one location maybe offering free coffee to the professors at the local colleges if they come in and answer questions or set up study groups on the weekend.Then rotate on a regular schedule between the locations where the students most frequent becoming a partner with the universities and colleges in the area.

While this is just an example for Starbucks locally, there are examples for everywhere I frequent. Apple stores, Tommy Bahama, the local Chili’s even Target and Wal-Mart should be looking at the differences in clientele from one store to the next and adjusting to build a “comfort zone” if you will for the locals.

My market may be a bit tougher because it is also very seasonal and that adds a different dynamic for 5-6 months of the year. But that could be a time to have fun and experiment and build loyalty with the seasonal “locals” as well. In the end it all comes down to doing local business right, building loyalty in you customers, building a feeling of community and playing to the strengths of each store. This is also where local shop owners need to get involved in Social Media and can use it to their advantage. Things like showing you know your local clientele and can adjust better than say a national chain by meeting those special requests of locals and regulars making your business different than the others while offering the same types of products and services. From Italian restaurants and pizza places to coffee shops to Pac Sun and Target, becoming part of the community is important and one of the easiest ways to do this is through social media. By reaching out to locals and getting them to like your fan page, add you as a friend, subscribe to your tweets, and allow you to add value, announce events, and build that community online and engaging customers there as well, while building brand and loyalty.

At Socialresidence.com we can help you with this and combine it with your existing marketing buys to cover your local market in an integrated way that engages your customers and locals while building your brand and loyalty.

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25 10 2012
National and Local business…what most chains don’t recognize « bryangiss

[…] National and Local business…what most chains don't recognize. […]

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