The Mirror recently made the decision to close its regional newspaper offices and dramatically reduce the size of its Canary Wharf HQ – resulting in three quarters of its staff being told that they were no longer expected to go to the office full time.
Although the move makes sense financially for the Mirror’s owner Reach as it can make substantial cost savings by ending some of its commercial office leases, it is in complete contrast to one of the key trends and changes of the pandemic – that living life locally is good and here to stay. A trend we need to factor in when reaching out to consumers via PR, Influencer and Promotional initiatives
Recent research has shown there has been a resurgence of community spirit and with millions of people forced to work from home, or put on furlough, they have looked closer to home for amenities and retailers as their high streets have been shut down. It’s a trend set to continue with shoppers buying more locally – not only to avoid travelling to city centres or shopping centres but also to show support for local businesses.
Google‘s searches for ‘available near me’ have grown globally by over 100% since last year and, as Google director of lifestyle retail Alison Lomax says, “Searches for ‘support local businesses’ have grown globally by more than 2,000 times year on year. Based on new research by Google and YouGov, 88% of consumers who are now shopping more locally say they’re likely to continue to do so in the future”.
Such massive shifts in consumer behaviour will have an impact on how we market and message to consumers – especially when it comes to lifestyle PR. Pre-pandemic it was the norm for global brands to invest in global ad campaigns and generic marketing programmes, but as we ease out of lockdown and take tentative steps into a brave new world being able to adapt and tailor messaging and calls to action will be essential.
Local buying was a necessity in 2020, it has become a desire in 2021. Defining local – town, city, county or just made in the UK – will be the challenge we face in the coming months and years ahead.