Since art has been around longer than shelter, franchises do well to take note of cultural movements.
What do I mean by cultural movements?
Cultural movements people—whether they be artists, writers, scientists, engineers, marketers, or poets—centered around the intellectual achievements of a select few. Those involved in cultural movements want to imitate these achievements, thus perpetuating the movement.
For instance, one could say that the rise of mobile marketing is a cultural movement, or the global consciousness of diversity movements, or the Eco-movements taking over progressive cities, such as Atlanta, Portland, Seattle, and Houston. These are all movements within the wider American culture.
Your franchise, as a national organization, needs to recognize and reconcile with the cultural movements of the 21st century. Why?
So you can survive. That’s why.
Cultural movements have the power to shutdown entire industries, or if not shut them down, kill their sales. On a more noble note, many of these movements seek for a better way of living. And that’s incentive enough to hope on board.
Though we live in a unique time, when movements seem to sprout everywhere, I’ve identified seven cultural movements your franchise needs to recognize.
7 Cultural Movements Franchises Need to Recognize
1. The Environmental (“Green”) Movement.
True, the Green Movement precedes the 21st century by at least 10 years. Some may even point to Green Movements in the 70’s. Nonetheless, this movement is still alive and well.
The Green Movement concerns itself with the environment, human waste, and sustainable living. These activists are usually young, live in big cities, and have some sort of college education. They dislike industries, refrigerators, synthetic foods, and anything that hints at an unnatural, inorganic creative process.
Of all the cultural movements, the Green Movement is perhaps the most influential. Consider, for instance, these statistics from a 2013 study by the Organic Trade Association. According to them, 48% parents support Green Movements because “it’s healthier from my family.” More stats:
- 30 % avoid toxic pesticides and fertilizers.
- 29 % avoid foods with antibiotics and growth hormones.
- 22 % avoid GMOs.
If your franchise produces excessive waste, and if your franchise seems unrelenting in this production, you are in danger of losing customers. As these younger people replace older generations, they will purchase less from franchises that depend on inorganic productions.
2. Organic and Farm Grown Foods.
Like the green movement, the focus on organic food comes from a deep suspicion of unnatural and inhumane treatment of the foods we eat. Much can be written about organic foods, but, for now, let’s focus on its effect on the franchise industry.
According to the Organic Trade Association, eight in ten U.S. parents report they purchase organic products (81% of US families). Moreover, over four in ten parents (42 percent) say their trust in organic products has increased, versus 32 percent who indicated this point of view a year ago. In fact, the younger the parents, the more likely they are to buy organic products.
Despite this, franchises have chosen to ignore or disregard this huge cultural movement. Sure, serving organic food is difficult when you are controlling food for hundreds of franchisees across the country. But something must be said for the franchises that are doing something.
Let’s consider two examples. The first is McDonald’s. After Food Inc. and other documentaries exposed the unethical treatment of animals, farmers, and the food, McDonald’s, along with other franchises, successfully redirected the way they make food. Of course, a McDonald’s hamburger is still less healthy then a grass fed burger. But hey. At least they’re trying.
The second is Chipotle. A few years back, Chipotle created two videos, “Back to the Start” and “The Scarecrow.” The first video is a story of a farmer whose family farm changes from organic to industrial farming. We see pigs penned up, pollution leaving pipes into a lake, food on industrial lines. At the end, the farmer realizes his folly. He transforms his industry back into a farm. This is when we discover the farm is a part of Chipotle.
The painful truth? Organic farms are being replaced by industry, causing terrible quality in food. The solution? Eat at Chipotle where food is grown organically.
3. The “Local” Movement.
We’ve all heard of the Green and Organic Movements (hopefully). But have you considered the Local Movement?
The Local Movement is, as it sounds, a focus on the local. Instead of focusing on the product itself, the Local Movement concerns itself with where your product or service comes from.
Just consider, for instance, the various local products. We want locally brewed beers, not just beer. We want locally grown tomatoes, not just tomatoes. We want locally sewn tunics, not just tunics. For some reason, when “locally” precedes the product, value is instantly added.
I say “for some reason,” but in reality there are many known reasons. Local products have a story attached to them. Someone that you know, that you see everyday, that you talk to, eat with, laugh with, someone familiar made that sweater, made that beer, made that sandwich. The story, then, adds more value to the product.
The problem with most franchises is, well, one of localization. They want to protect their “big brand” name, so they limit the freedom of their franchisees. With less freedom, franchisees act under mechanical guidelines, making mechanical products, with no story attached.
The problem of localization is more real than you may think. According to the U.S. State Department, American businesses lose $50 billion annually in potential sales because of problems with localization.
Localizing a business is first and foremost a marketing endeavor. To localize, you must show your community your business’ product or service stands out from the franchise’s national advertising. You must show your location differs from a franchisee in a neighboring city. You must show all of this, even before the customer steps into your door.
The Local Movement is a force to be reckoned with. I predict that in the next ten years, franchisees will be local businesses, not mechanical businesses depending on some sort of franchise model. Only time will tell. For now, let’s move on to some technology movements.
4. The Mobile Movement.
Do I really need to stress the rise of the mobile? Maybe so. If you’re at all skeptical of mobile marketing, consider these statistics released by PEW research.
As of January 2014:
90% of American adults have a cell phone
58% of American adults have a smartphone
32% of American adults own an e-reader
42% of American adults own a tablet computer
Because most people own a mobile device, franchises must adapt their marketing efforts to mobile devices. Customers want your website to look good on smartphones, on tablets, on anything that’s mobile. And if it doesn’t, well, they’ll find something that will.
5. The “Integrated Systems” Movement.
Integrated marketing is a hot term these days. Basically, an integrated marketing system uses one digital program to do all of your marketing, from mobile to email to website to social media to PPC to SEO to blogging.
All you have to do is pay a monthly fee, and these companies promise to build your digital marketing.
Why the rise of integrated systems? Easy. Every week, technology progresses exponentially. Franchise owners, who probably don’t have time to learn the new technology, need someone specialized in technological marketing to help franchise keep up.
Integrated systems, then, help franchises keep up with the change of technology. By marketing your franchise on several different mediums, you can rest assured your story is shared everywhere.
6. The “Diversity” Movement
With the introduction of the Internet, the rapid growth of transcontinental franchising, the suspicion and skepticism toward “the Melting Pot” ideal, diversity is real and growing..
Think, for instance, about the same-sex marriage controversy that happened to Chick-Fa-La. In 2012, Dan Cathy expressed disapproval over same-sex marriage, and the country freaked out. Yes, Cathy makes chicken, and chicken has nothing to do with gay people. But still. His beliefs enraged many, resulting in protests, sit-ins, and millions of social media posts.
In this age, if you’re not diverse, expect resistance.
7. The “Share Your Story” Movement.
I have one more cultural movement to share. This one is my observation, an observation I’ve been making for a few years now. What’s cool now is not so much the product but the story behind the product. Customers want to know the faces, the voices, the people making their food, building their houses, making their toys. We want to know the story is good in order to feel the product is likewise valuable.
At LocalMark, we help brands share their stories. We give you an integrated marketing system that not only projects but amplifies your brand’s voice. We give your franchisees websites, blogs, social media platforms, whatever it takes to raise its local voice and direct locals in the area to the franchisee.
So call us today. We’ll definitely help you share that story.