EDITORIAL: Local loyalty is dilemma for PR

The results of PRWeek's NOP survey on consumer relationships with

brands contain food for thought for corporate communicators.

The fact three-quarters of consumers linked globalisation with the word

'freedom' - as against a quarter who associated it with 'oppression' -

is little surprise. But the fact the same group would rather identify

themselves with local rather than global brands poses a riddle that PR

must answer.

The challenge is summed up by the hybrid word 'glocal'. Consumers value

the freedom afforded them by the internationalisation of capital and the

availability of goods previously dominant in one market. But to create

brand loyalty, PR must strike a balance in the messages it communicates

between internationalism and localism.

The prize is durable loyalty. In this, some have proved they understand

the problem. For example, Nike's London fun run - which establishes a

link between a famous consumer product (usually associated with sharp

employment practice in the developing world) and a day-out for

children - and the community projects of other corporations.

For PROs wondering why they can't leverage broad support from consumers

into long-term brand connection, the research speaks volumes.

The key is encouraging corporations to engage with consumers. The

benefit of an event such as the fun run is that it immerses people in

the corporate brand, not that it localises the product - a tall order

for as US-centric a company as Nike. Further engagement is vital.

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