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Larry Light asks “Is This Your Grandfather’s Harley-Davidson?” in Forbes

Has Harley-Davidson met its Oldsmobile moment? The venerable motorcycle brand faces the deleterious consequences of demography. On the one hand, Harley continues to be reliant on the defining mood, spirit and discretionary spending of Baby Boomers (think Marlon Brando’s outlaw motorcycle 1953 film, The Wild Ones, Jack Nicholson and Dennis Hopper in the 1969 film Easy Rider, and the hauntingly sad Rolling Stones Altamont concert). Today, many Baby Boomers are aging out of the motorcycle lifestyle.

Is This Your Grandfather’s Harley-Davidson? Forbes.com

Read the rest of Larry Light’s piece now! Click here.

BRAND EXTENSIONS STRENGTHEN BRANDS

The more ways a customer experience the delivery of a brand promise, the stronger the brand connection. Well-managed extended brands build brand loyalty. For example, having great experiences with Samsung mobile phones as a young adult can influence your choice of a Samsung washer and dryer later in your life.

Apple is enjoying the fruits of an attractive extended brand. Barron’s recently reported on PiperJaffray research indicating that among 6,000 US teenagers, in Spring 2018, 82% said they own an Apple iPhone, while 84% said they intend to buy a new iPhone the next time they buy a mobile phone. Compare these numbers to Spring 2014, when about 60% of 6,000 US teens said they own an iPhone, and about 66% said they intend to buy an iPhone.

Additionally, PiperJaffray asked about Apple Watches. Of the 6,000 teens in the study, 20% said they already own an Apple Watch, while 20% said they intended to buy an Apple Watch. Considering that the smart watch category is still taking hold, these are respectable numbers.

A favorable experience with an iPhone and/or an Apple Watch and/or an iPad increases the probability the same customer will by an Apple laptop. Apple is building an over-arching power brand by connecting with younger cohorts. As Barron’s states, “Getting more people into the Apple network early can be extremely valuable, especially if they sign up for services that make them unlikely to switch to other phones. And, finding that interest in the Apple Watch is also growing would only help.”

Amazon is another brand that is building a strong branded multi-product and service portfolio. According to The Toronto Star, Amazon has strong relationships with Millennials and older customers because these demographics have access to financial services. Many Gen Z individuals are still using the bank-of-mom-and-dad.

“Teenagers, otherwise known as generation Z, with their lack of debit and credit cards, their absence of bank accounts and their overwhelming preference for actually putting on clothes and going to physical stores to buy things they could purchase online, pose a big challenge to Amazon.  Amazon’s answer: The internet behemoth is in early discussions with banks including JPMorgan Chase Co. and Capital One Financial Corp. to create a product similar to chequing accounts. Amazon aims to tailor the accounts to appeal especially to youngsters and those who own no plastic in their wallets.”

Airbnb is creating a portfolio of branded products and services for young people including rental apartments. The brand has created Airbnb Experiences with Generation Z and Millennials.  CEO Brian Chesky sees Experiences as the future, as Millennials and Gen Z customers live in smaller urban spaces where amassing things becomes superfluous. It is the experience that matters. Currently, Airbnb offers 5,000 Experiences, and Mr. Chesky says there are 55,000 on the waiting list.

Extended brands that offer multiple product and service experiences strengthen the customer’s commitment and conviction in the brand promise.

 

THE LURE OF LOCALIZATION

Customization and personalization are increasingly important marketing opportunities. Customization means flexibility of product and service design. Personalization means respecting and reflecting personal differences, attitudes and values. Personalization conveys respect for customers as individuals.

There is another powerful force… the lure of localization. Localization is more than the farmers’ market or the neighborhood craft brewery.  Local is a distinctive feeling of community. Local creates a sense of belonging.

Locally sourced, locally crafted, locally owned, regionally authentic, one-of-a-kind, bring a sense of cultural, ethnic, economic, and social connection. Artisanal, regional cheeses, local distilleries and breweries, grass-fed cows on local farms, cage-free chickens, arts and crafts, non-GMO, fresh, organic, locally made employing local people, and other local elements and activities that bring “real” into our lives continue to grow and are increasingly attractive and affordable. Homemade items from Etsy; retro items from eBay; and modern vintage from Restoration Hardware – all of these give us a sense of truth.

Local is more than location. It is also about local values. It is the comfort of belonging to a familiar community. Localism provides authenticity, genuineness, and a true sense of reality as in “This is what it is really all about.” It is a feeling of being a part of people just like me.

Feeling like a local gives us a sense of belonging to a social group with distinctive interests and priorities. In our current world, we have this need to belong while we consciously attempt to maintain our individuality. Feeling like a local means that we can stand out while we blend in.

For Millennials especially, it is important to feel like a local. Millennials value living and working in the same neighborhood.  They like “walking neighborhoods where you step outside your home, and have opportunities to have exchanges with others. In walking neighborhoods, people pass others on the street, and can connect. In a digital, AI, VR, and AR world, we need neighbors and belonging more than ever before.

Short-term residential rental housing is leveraging this need. For many people, staying away from home creates a sense of loss. We lose our anchors. Instead of staying at a standardized global hotel brand, people are searching for hotels with a local, neighborhood feeling.  As Airbnb says, short-term rentals let us choose a neighborhood where we can “live like a local.” Feeling and acting like a resident is important. Barry Sternlicht (former CEO of Starwood Hotels & Resorts, and creator of W Hotel and Westin’s Heavenly Bed) is investing in short-term residential rentals. His investment in a start-up goes to support the addition of new upscale, branded residences for short stays to compete with brands like Lyric, which is listed on Airbnb. Airbnb has its own brand as well, “Friendly Buildings Program” that features rental units provided by “friendly” landlords. The short-term residential rental market appeals to corporate travelers who prefer integrated neighborhood lodging experiences.

WeWork is another example of creating feelings of belonging. WeWork generates feelings of community. Not only does the brand provide communal office space, but, also, through its WeLive brand, it offers apartments. And, to provide for physical and mental wellness, We Work just opened Rise, its gym and spa featuring treadmills, boxing bags, saunas, and massage studios. (The New York Times indicates that the Rise memberships are from $100 to $360 a month.)

Brands have an amazing opportunity to leverage the need for feeling like a local – enhancing the sense of belonging – for all individual customers. Here are three things brands can do right now:

  1. Figure out what makes your brand “authentic” to its audience and then consistently and creatively deliver that authenticity in its experience. Increasingly, deliver the local “real thing” over a who-knows-who-how-where it-was-made. We want something genuine, honest, we can trust. People trust local over distant. People trust locally grown over imported from Mexico.

 

  1. Design ways that customers can become involved in the brand community. People want to feel like a local – this need to belong is a need to be a part of something bigger than themselves. Create personalized participation for customers. Don’t automate everything. People see certain services as being more authentic when delivered by a human. All-digital-all-the-time can be dehumanizing and deadly. Feeling like a local entails being within a neighborhood of real people.

 

  1. Create conversations. Employ the art of conversation. Conversation is collaborative: it is an engaging, connecting, channel-agnostic interactive, and integrative force. Whether vocal or digital, it can be used to generate a feeling of local. Conversation builds trust.

 

Feeling like a local helps us understand our places: our communities, our neighborhoods, our homes, or our countries. Feeling local binds us together as belonging to some place or communal physical, psychological, geographical or virtual space. Local provides kinship with a particular place, wherever that is, and in whatever physical/virtual state that is.  Technology is transforming the world by lowering the physical barriers of place. By respecting local values and tastes and ideas, by rooting in the local space, brands deepen trust.