Matt Cooper and I constantly bleat on about ‘local, regional and global’. This mantra is, as far as we’re concerned, the heart and core of LBB. It informs how we approach each and every part of the business, be that news, our social media network or company listings. I was thinking about this when I left the house this morning and subsequently found three examples in which local (your community), regional (your country) and global (your world) apply through brand loyalty and word of mouth.
Firstly – local, your community: En route to the station, my good friend Sam had a small rant about our favourite neighbourhood coffee shop increasing their prices. Opened roughly three years ago, this little gem in southeast London captured my heart for three reasons. One – its layout, branding and style reminds me of many a coffee shop that I used to frequent when I lived in Williamsburg, NY. Two – it is owned by a Kent lad and I’m Kentish. He’s roughly the same age as me and took a gamble by setting out on his own because he believed in ‘something’ – inspiring. This leads me on to my third reason – what did he believe in? The product. This place serves the most unbelievable coffee. It’s heavy, rich and smooth like nectar. If that’s not enough, the food and treats they conjure up to accompany these little cups of heaven force the diet to disappear as soon as you see them in the window.
However, they’ve been rattling a few cages with their 2013 increase in prices. Up from £2 to £2.60 for our morning Americano. That makes our weekly coffee costs increase from £10 a week (£40 a month) to £13 a week (£52 a month). For those of us who wake each morning to BBC Radio 4 and its analysis of the British economy, that extra £12 is quite a bit more to budget – in fact, it’s an additional £144 a year. That and the recent 4.2 per cent increase in London Underground fares, you’d think that people would be boycotting Browns and using the £1.60-a-cup business next door. But instead, business is up. It seems the shop’s confidence in its offering means others have also thought, processed and agreed, it’s worth that extra few bob a week. The product, the brand, the staff, the approach, community and in all, the dream – the care that the owner takes to nurture that original thought and passion – it keeps the punters coming in.
Regionally, let’s take a moment to think about the Starbucks ‘tax uproar’ at the end of 2012 (or should I title this as ‘when a brand seriously fucks up’?). Returning to the state of the British economy and each individual’s personal/local woes, it isn’t surprising that when the UK population discovers that this minted global coffee brand hasn’t paid a British pound to Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs, a grumble can be heard across the land. In fact, it transpired that these toe rags have reported a loss each and every year they’ve had shops on these shores. They infuriated us Brits so much that in December there were protests outside UK branches
How has this affected the brand? Surely the product is so good that consumers can’t avoid purchasing their Christmas eggnog latte? Wrong – the product has never been that amazing. If we’re honest, it’s average and just convenient. Not playing as a team member in the country’s economy has meant that, as predicted by Gary Davies, professor of corporate reputation at Manchester Business School, Starbucks sales will see a squeeze of 24 per cent. Evidently, although we might be a polite nation, when it comes to brand loyalty and respect, we’ll give back what you give out.
So bringing it back to the present, Facebook announced yesterday its Graph Search feature. It will, running alongside its integrated Microsoft Bing search engine, allow users to scan publicly available photos and posts, friends’ music and restaurant likes whilst also scouring the web. Analysts claim it’ll set the social media site up for a battle with online search giant Google. Victor Basta, from technology advisory firm Magister Advisors, said “it has… effectively rolled Amazon, TripAdvisor and tribal search engine capabilities into the ecosystem in one fell swoop”. Founder Mark Zuckerberg insists that it is a “very, very different” search engine. It will apparently provide people with their friend’s recommendations, the ability to view brand loyalty amongst their peers and the ability to share information, making search results more relevant to the individual than a general web search.
Taking our local and regional and making them global… That one comment for your local coffee shop, or the rant that you post on your regional beverage provider may mean that you in turn share your global voice. Nice work Team Facebook – shame us Brits will have to wait for a UK release. Many thanks to Browns of Brockley
, the Overground, Jubilee Line, Sam and The Metro for providing me with inspiration… time well spent and not one delay. Now that’s a great start to the morning.