omnilocalWe’ve come a long way since the days of town criers and billboards.

Now, even the biggest international companies can create localized campaigns—and they can do it everywhere at once.

At Mitchell, we recently conducted a study called “The OmniLocal Consumer Report: Mapping the Shifting Perceptions of Local in the Minds of Millennial & Gen Z Consumers” to explore this phenomenon.

We discovered that consumers are not just redefining what it means to engage with brands at the local level, but the definition of “local” is not what it used to be.

For younger consumers who are never far from a cell phone (and who love to travel), local is less about hometown pride and more about things they can experience outside the digital world.

These OmniLocal consumers can get anything at any price online. They don’t care as much about the products as they do about the experiences that make up the purchasing process.

When two companies offer a similar product, people will almost always go with the brand which treats them better.

For businesses, this shift in values has already created shockwaves across every major industry.

Brands can no longer afford to focus on sales first and customers second.

On the contrary, without a great customer experience, those sales might never materialize.

What Makes a Customer ‘OmniLocal’?

Now that millennials have usurped their predecessors as owners of the most purchasing power (with Generation Z consumers close behind), brands must cater to the needs of younger shoppers.

That means understanding what they want from their experiences and learning to straddle the fine line between localized and intrusive.

OmniLocals of the digital era define localities more by shared interest than by geography.

Why should they limit themselves to a single block when their online upbringing has exposed them to all the world has to offer?

Sure, they might shop in stores for products, but our research confirmed that a slight majority of OmniLocals prefer to research products on their smartphones—even when they’re standing in front of those products in the store.

For brands, this means the OmniLocal experience stretches far beyond brick-and-mortar locations to include websites and ever-shifting social media channels.

Anticipating the Expectations of the OmniLocal

Today’s consumers connect with everyone from foreign friends to long-lost middle school crushes.

What’s more, they see how others post and interact with other brands online, creating an intricate web of connections between physical and digital which guides them toward the best experiences.

The weight of this responsibility is immense.

Brands must understand what drives local culture, both geographically and within social groups.

They must also anticipate what kinds of experiences OmniLocals expect and deliver on those experiences across every store and platform.

No business is exempt. Megabrands must meet the same personalized care standard as mom-and-pop shops. And in turn, must match the convenience offered by bigger competitors.

This might sound unattainable, but it’s the reality of the times. Expectations are high, while profit margins are tight.

OmniLocal consumers crave extensive online information and hyperlocal experiences.

Only brands meeting those lofty expectations can earn the loyalty of the modern consumer, and the companies that do stand to reap some serious benefits.

How to Create Effective OmniLocal Marketing

The trick to successful OmniLocal marketing isn’t a trick at all: It’s a mindset.

Only by understanding what modern consumers want can brands adjust their tactics to meet demand.

Fortunately, even the biggest mindset shift starts with a few small changes.

Use the following tips to create a comprehensive OmniLocal strategy and earn the business of today’s consumers.

Infuse Influencer Strategies with OmniLocal Flair

Buyers often decide what to buy based on the recommendations of social media influencers.

These digital celebrities take the place of close friends for many, which makes them the perfect avenue for brands looking to build OmniLocal connections.

Current research from Olapic and CITE Research verifies that young people are especially likely to follow influencers on Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube.

Further, our report discovered that influencers who promote local products—even when they don’t live in the geographical area—can create substantial sales boosts.

Reach out to influencers with audiences in areas you want to target (geographical or otherwise). Create partnerships to turn a global product into a local sensation.

If your product is popular locally, target influencers who are favored in like-minded communities to expand your reach. The more niche the target group, the better the per-target results will be.

Tug on the Heartstrings

OmniLocals would love to save the world, but stats and figures don’t paint much of a picture.

Break through the noise by telling local, personal stories about people in the community. Then connect those stories to your brand.

Eagle Lager, a Ugandan beer company, famously relies only on local Ugandan crops to create its beers. This strategy keep the beer popular in its area. And it endears the brand to those in the craft brew scene who like to see companies stick to their roots.

Identify what makes your brand great. Put a face to that story and tell it in places where your audience will listen.

Demonstrate Local Savvy

OmniLocal consumers might be more inclusive about the term “local,” but they still know a real local when they see one.

Prove your worth by demonstrating knowledge about the communities you target in local media, such as newspapers, news stations, and culture websites.

Glossier is famous for its online presence, but the makeup brand has real-world clout, too.

Earlier this year, Glossier made a series of moves in Chicago to attract local customers and get the city buzzing about its minimalistic beauty products.

The pop-up shop was adorned with local artwork and architecture inspired by the city, injecting a Chicago vibe into a brand based in New York.

It worked, to say the least. Chicago is one of Glossier’s most engaged cities, and its partnerships with local businesses and artists cemented its local claim.

Make Local Connections

The internet has brought the OmniLocal consumer generation closer together.

Today’s young buyers feel more connected than ever.

And if brands want to join those conversations, they must first meet consumers on their own turf.

Follow these tips and take advantage of opportunities to make local connections. By doing so, any brand—big or small—can turn a strange market into a hometown crowd.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Sarah Clark

Sarah Clark is CEO of Mitchell, a leading integrated PR firm that creates real connections between businesses, brands, and people through strategic insights, customized conversations, and consumer engagement. Mitchell is the flagship PR agency of the Dentsu Aegis Network, which is the 2017 and 2018 MediaPost Holding Company of the Year.

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