Editor’s Note: Going Local
A new trend seems to be popping up in the world of retail: a greater emphasis on local marketing by national retailers.
Now retailers have always targeted locally. Inserts, for example, have appeared in Sunday newspapers with coupons targeted to local shoppers for years. But thanks to new technology and an understanding of how important local programs can be, it's becoming more than an afterthought.
Consider Macy's, which earlier this spring announced first quarter earnings well ahead of what it originally expected. While the improving economic climate had something to do with that, Terry J. Lundgren — Macy's chairman, president and chief executive officer — gave a public shout-out to its My Macy's localization program as a reason for its success. The national, customer-centric localization program is designed to accelerate sales growth in existing locations by ensuring that core customers surrounding each Macy's store find merchandise assortments, size ranges, marketing programs and shopping experiences tailored to their needs. (For more on Macy's, check out the Prospecting page in the IndustryEye section on pg. 10.)
Localization is also on consumers' minds right now thanks to some pretty cool location-sharing tools from start-ups such as foursquare, Gowalla, MyTown and Brightkite — as well as Google.
foursquare, the leader in the location-sharing space, is a simple application that lets users share where they are — such as visiting a cafe, restaurant, museum, park or retail establishment — and what they're doing, all via mobile phone. GPS units in mobile phones relay locations back to foursquare, and users then get badges for reaching milestones such as visiting the same spot repeatedly or checking in many times in a night. They can become mayors of any one location by visiting it more times than anyone else on foursquare.
To compete with foursquare, Google launched Google Latitude earlier this year, a location-aware mobile application that enables mobile phone users to allow certain people to track their locations. Soon Google will offer a location history and let users explicitly "check in" with text updates on what they're doing, according to reports.