Community Over Calamity

Community Over Calamity

FacebookLinkedInTwitter

Engaging in Troubling Times

“We’re in this together.” It’s just what you say in times like this when it’s easy to feel stranded and out to sea. There’s nothing like a shared experience, especially a shared hardship, to build customer loyalty – as long as your customers truly feel like you’re sharing.

In 1981, Whole Foods Market was just the new “granola” grocery store in Austin. They’d made waves by applying the supermarket concept to the natural foods segment but were still an unproven commodity when the worst flood in 70 years hit the Colorado River city that Memorial Day. Founders John Mackey and Renee Lawson had put everything they had into the store, and without insurance $400,000 worth of equipment and inventory were total losses.


Source: Whole Foods Market

The flood affected more than just Whole Foods, of course; the entire city was in a state of shock. So what Mackey and Lawson did next was uncommonly bold – they asked for help. They were honest about the fact that they would need breathing room from investors and vendors that they owed money to and told their customers that while they were going to need time to reopen, they DID intend to get business back on track.

Source: Whole Foods Market

Customers showed up anyway, not to demand that the store let them buy but to help with cleanup. Neighbors showed up volunteering to help with repairs. Vendors extended them product on credit and the store was remarkably able to reopen only 28 days after the flood. And it was all growth from there – by 1984 they were expanding to other cities.

Not every disaster or business is cut out for customers to directly contribute and Whole Foods had clearly built up extraordinary levels of goodwill leading up to the flood. But earnestly and openly engaging your clientele and community in this unique moment can earn you the kind of mutually beneficial symbiosis that takes decades to get organically.

Whole Foods still tells the story of the flood; it’s on the corporate website, the Wikipedia page and is part of their employee onboarding as the origin story behind one of their core values. The flood rebuild marks the day when they realized that given the chance customers and neighbors can be just as invested as the people who provide capital.

The truth is that we ARE all in this together but simply saying so isn’t enough. Everyone is looking for any excuse not to buy what you’re selling but if your customers hear relatable stories, determined solutions and honest engaging outreach, they will be invested in your story, in their relationship with you and in the material benefits you can provide to them. There’s a reason team buildings have trust falls – loyalty comes from shared experience. So share it and show your customers a brand with a purpose they can trust.

Learn more about Coming Back Better Than Before

Now It’s Your Turn
FacebookLinkedInTwitter

Brand Strategy, Corporate Culture, Culture, Employee Engagement, Organizational Development
The Southwest Airlines Meltdown: When a Strong Brand is Humbled by Weak Systems

An unfortunate number of Americans will remember the Great Travel Debacle of the 2022 Christmas travel season. A once-in-a-century storm swept the nation coast-to-coast causing untold misery for thousands of travelers and effectively canceled the holidays for many. While most airlines were able to manage their delays and cancellations despite the disruptions and return to […]

Learn More
Brand Strategy, Culture, Design, Digital Media, Strategic Branding
Transforming the Insurance Sector From Laggard to Leader

See related article published on Digital Insurance. While the pandemic took many industries on a rollercoaster ride, few had so many previously set-in-stone strategies, processes and go-to-market gameplans completely upended as the insurance sector. For both established carriers, newer insuretechs, brokers and the multitude of channels in between, no organization was spared the shock of […]

Learn More
Brand Strategy, Corporate Culture, Corporate Responsibility
Who is Responsible for Climate Change?

It’s no secret that the changing climate is one of the most pressing issues facing the rising generations. In a planet already experiencing the consequences of global warming, including increased damage from storms and typhoons, rising water levels, and increased instances of infectious diseases that some experts speculate will bring on the age of pandemics, […]

Learn More
Corporate Culture, Employee Engagement, Employer Branding, Organizational Development
Navigating In-Office and In-Home Workplace Environments to Foster Collaboration and Contentment

The research is clear—employees are more productive and happier in workplace environments that have been intentionally designed to motivate them around a common purpose. From the days of the cubicle to the era of the open plan office, employers have endeavored to develop working environments that help workers engage more productively and find increased fulfillment […]

Learn More

Ready to talk about how your brand and culture can do more for your business?

Let's talk
Let's talk