A Sense of Community – Opportunity Missed.

Starbucks, Macy’s, Dunkin Donuts, McDonald’s, Party City, Game Stop, Modell’s Sporting Goods, New York & Co, Motherhood Maternity, Dress Barn, Payless Shoes – All could stand to learn a lesson from Wal-Mart.

Wal-Mart has been trying to establish its brand within New York City since 2005 – and has yet to gain a foothold.  Its opposition has been at the conglomerate of unions, citizens and local businesses through-out the city.  While the major retailer and largest private employer in the nation’s existence within NYC is controversial, I am not going to take one side or the other.  However, I do believe Wal-Mart, as even one of the largest retailers in the world understands how important it is to be a part of, and accepted by the communities that generate each location’s revenues. (New York Times: 2012)

I took my kids trick-or-treating in the Parkchester region of the Bronx, NY.  The neighborhood is quite diverse, and knowing which house is celebrating, or if the building is even a house, or just a single front door with many apartment doors behind it is a bit of a guessing game.  With that being the norm, it has been tradition that all the trick-or-treaters go business-to-business, versus house-to-house.  I was able to pick up a bit of a mildly surprising, and disappointing trend.

Nearly ALL of the “Mom & Pap” type shops were active and involved in the festivities, anxious to hand out candy and participate in the excitement of the kids and adolescents involved!  That is not the disappointing part.  What was disappointing was that the majority of big brands and major retailers did not participate (all mentioned at the opening of this article), and simply hung “No Candy” or “No More Candy” signs (We were out from 4:30-5:30pm).

Why does this bother me?  As a Dad, I want to see my kids enjoy the festivities and be as excited and involved by a huge community event!  It is not often we get to see so many of the youth of our community out for a common cause, and I wanted them to have the best time with it!  As a marketer, I feel like these major brands missed what would normally be a good opportunity, but under current conditions, was a HUGE opportunity.

NYC was just hit by what may be the WORST environment and economically damaging natural disaster in its history, Tropical Super Storm Sandy!  Halloween, 31 October 2012, was the first day that retailers had a chance to show to the members of their communities that they were a PART OF THE COMMUNITY, to be there and understand the hardships, struggles, and perserverence to move forward with everyone in the community. The gesture would have been possible with the simple gesture of partaking in the festivities at an EXTREMELY low cost (and likely a great marketing opportunity to include a leaflet or flyer; isn’t black Friday just right around the corner???).  I could continue, but I really feel like the brands missed the mark on this one.  Was it the brand and the big wigs behind the big names, or was it a failure at decentralized leadership at the ground level?  Likely a combination of both.


What’s your take?