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Some strategies used by brands to create communities include supporting community events; creating customer physical experiences; creating pop-up shops; building communities within communities and embracing a cause that is both local and global.

1. SUPPORTING COMMUNITY EVENTS

  • Building physical communities can be successful by leveraging existing local events to bring the brand name to the forefront of a potential customer’s mind.
  • Bringing the community together in a single physical location that attracts them via fun events that support charity helps to promote discussion of the brand and link it in people’s minds with both a good time and a positive contribution to society.
  • If the brand is a significant local employer, this strategy can help the brand be seen as a leader in the local community. It can build a reputation of a brand that provides local employment opportunities, work experience placements and gives back to local charities.
  • Blinds Direct operationalizes these strategies by supporting the annual duck race in their local community.
  • The race is a significant community event with lots of different vendors, games and food, with the main event being a duck race on the river.
  • Local businesses and people sponsor a duck, and a massive flotilla of yellow plastic ducks are released at one time and float down the river to the finish line. Prizes are given to the owners of the first three ducks to cross the finish line.
  • The company feels they are successful in building this local community as the number of resumes they receive after the event increases.

2. EXPERIENCES

  • As online sales become a larger and larger portion of revenue, some retailers are developing physical real world ‘spaces’ where “customers want to be, dwell, socialize, convene and even learn.”
  • As retailers begin to understand the importance of personal physical connections that are missing in the online world, they are aiming to add value to the customer by creating spaces where customers can form the bonds they need.
  • It also has the potential to increase sales as customers usually stay longer, roam the store and therefore often buy more product.
  • At least three large UK retailers are using this strategy.
  • John Lewis has developed both rooftop restaurants and an in-store apartment. Each apartment includes a fully furnished bedroom, living and dining room equipped with a £3,000 sofa, a £2,000 dining table and a £2,800 widescreen plasma television. The Oxford Street branch offers a kitchen filled with the necessary equipment, including a £1,300 coffee machine and a wine cooler, a study and an indoor terrace overlooking Cavendish Square.
  • ‘Debenhams Redesigned’ strategy includes opening new stores which include modern restaurants as well as beauty services offered in their unique beauty bars.
  • Lush’s Gorilla Perfumes brand retrofitted a cinema in one of their stores and over the holiday season provided screenings with scented environments, comfortable seating and in-house food trucks. Lush created an intersection with their online community by requiring ticketed reservations available online and by encouraging viewers to share their experiences by tweeting to @gorillaperfumes with the hashtag #scentedcinemas.

3. POP-UP SHOPS

  • A pop-up shop is traditionally held in a high foot traffic area such as city centers and malls and lasts anywhere from 3 days to a few months,
  • There are many values in this model, including it is about 80% cheaper than a full-time retail store. It helps build awareness of a brand, and it helps the brand take advantage of the retail channel. Most importantly, it allows brands to connect with customers physically, and customers to physically connect and build their communities.
  • Two brands are using this model to build their communities in the UK.
  • Glossier is an American brand of beauty products that has developed a massive online community. “Allow women to look like the best version of themselves, not an aspirational version of someone else” is their powerful message. Leveraging their online community, they are bringing the brand to the UK with pop-ups this fall. Suspense is building around location announcement through channels like Elle magazine. In a recent article, the message “safe to say Glossier’s notorious queues are inevitable.” is being used to build interest.
  • Gymshark is a fast-growing fitness apparel brand whose growth is driven by the robust online community they have built around their brand. Their Gymshark Central blog articles provide tips, tutorials, and recipes, and health and fitness-related information that has made their site into the go-to place for information.
  • They use this vibrant community to drive sales at their pop-up shops across the UK.

4. COMMUNITIES WITHIN COMMUNITIES

  • When a brand has a large online community, there is value in segregating into smaller targeted communities.
  • Growing a smaller targeted group makes it easier to appeal to more members of a group when there is already a common interest or desire.
  • Gymshark uses this strategy to get success. Embedded in their pop-ups are famous athletes in specific sports that represent their brand. With substantial social media following of their own, the athlete is specially selected to represent the brand to their communities. This strategy provides Gymshark with the chance to individually engage physically with the athletes’ loyal fans on a personal level and expand their market into fans of specific sports.

5. EMBRACING A PHYSICAL CAUSE — An Extra insight from the US

  • Every corporation seems to be jumping on the sustainability bandwagon these days; it is rapidly losing its value as a differentiator.
  • It is a challenge to find a local and global cause that can drive an online brand into a large, existing community that is physically visible, and that promotes a desire to do something.
  • As well as a cause, finding a range of emotions that will speak to the individual also helps promote sales and communities.
  • The Giving Keys calls themselves a “Pay It Forward” community of people that have chosen to work on homelessness, which is both a global problem driven by climate change and refugee migration and a local challenge for victims of economic downturns.
  • They segment their market by terminology, offering jewelry with the words love, believe, create, dream, faith, fearlessness, hope, inspire and strength, or will make a piece of key jewelry with a custom request.
  • They are not a non-profit but are a social enterprise that sells products to provide jobs. As of September 2019, they have generated 164,824 hours of work for homeless people in Los Angeles.
  • Their brand is creating communities around the world of people who want to live by their motto “Pay It Forward”.
TDM

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