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The Set List: RePatriotism 

Image: Flickr user Mike Mozart

Editor’s note: this blog is part of a series discussing trends and insights into the world around us.

Following the U.S. Election and the U.K.’s vote to withdraw from the EU (aka Brexit), there’s a new era of distrust propelling people together towards ideas of community, activism and being part of a collective—a move toward taking a stand against segregational decisions in the world of politics.

More than ever, people are determined to invest in and celebrate their roots, cultural eccentricities and traditions. Moving away from one-size-fits-all megabrands, consumers are turning to brands that communicate an understanding of their culture, beliefs and point of view. A whopping 84 percent of U.S. consumers prefer U.S. made products, whereas in Asia this same attitude shift is gradually developing, with 24 percent of APAC consumers saying national pride is the most important reason they buy local products. Nielsen’s global perspective insights also show that in Malaysia, 54 percent of consumers believe local brands are more attuned to their personal needs and tastes, with 55 percent preferring to buy local brands because they support local businesses.

This shift is causing all types of brands to jump on the ‘re-patriotism’ bandwagon. This includes big players, such as Coca Cola with their ‘Old Glory’ cans encouraging consumers to join their ‘Campaign to Connect’ initiative, which involved sending ‘thank you’ messages to service members across the globe. Budweiser also made a patriotic change to its brand name, calling itself ‘America’. Anheuser-Busch says the name change aims “to inspire drinkers to celebrate America and Budweiser’s shared values of freedom and authenticity.”

Image: Kyle Harrington

Taking a subtle, more nostalgic view, Clarks’ ‘From Rats to Rudeboys’ campaign aimed to promote the brand’s historical affiliation with key cultural, music and style movements of the past 65 years, from the 60’s UK Mod scene to the birth of dancehall music in Jamaica in the 70’s. Running alongside were contributions from three contemporary creatives: British Reggae historian Steve Barrow, photographer Bruno Barbey and Jah Stitch, Jamaican musician and a member of 70’s Kingston gang, The Spanglers.

This approach can also be seen in the physical environment through the creation of spaces that celebrate tradition and cultural rituals. Dunhill Tobacconist in Mayfair, London is a reboot of a century-old heritage retailer that celebrates product and expertise within a members’ club environment, underpinned by tradition and ritualistic behaviour. The tobacco is presented like fine jewellery in cases, while the venue includes a cigar lounge that extends into an events space, one-to-one access to the master blender and, for a price, access to personal humidors.

So, what does this mean for brands? Create culture clubs. Stores will become experiential and connected, evolving into cultural destinations, promoting brand involvement in social/political/cultural movements. By tapping into local tastes and preferences, brands can showcase an intimate understanding of the locality’s needs. Brands can also provide transparency by hosting on-site workshops and revealing manufacturing processes that celebrate the people behind the product.

Sinead Wallace is a versatile designer with an appreciation for brand identity. Experienced in Retail projects ranging from large-scale developments to pop ups and brand launches, she has worked with high-end and high street brands both in the U.K. and abroad. She believes in the importance of storytelling within a space, the customer experience and their journey, understanding the bigger picture as well as the details. Contact her at Sinead_Wallace@gensler.com.