30 March 2010

Of course big companies upturn small towns and their communities!

On Radio National's Australia Talks tonight was a discussion and talk back session on the issue of the big chain supermarket Woolworths setting up in the iconic small town Mullumbimby. I tried to get through with my phone call, but like most people I guess, was left out and relegated to a very slowly moderated online forum. So here's my post here, just in case the ABC moderator has gone home for the night (as it seems she has).
Disappointed at the set up of the discussion. Of course Woolworths and mega businesses like them disrupt the local economy. Transport, parking, foot traffic, consumer demand, the market, even the culture of the people in a place is affected by Woolworths inevitable presence and their standardised business practice.

And surely we can see that offering young people a minimum wage simply assists Woolworths to be accepted in the community over a generation of branding awareness.. giving kids a skewed view of what employment means to a massive company they will never meet the owners of, be treated as human resource, as a precarious casual or part timer.. little wonder kids have difficulty developing an understanding their place and responsibility in community and society.

So I'm disappointed that the discussion questioned the impact of Woolworths and the whether it is negative. Of course it is!

But Woolworth's success in changing the culture and market in Australia is done. It is inevitable that they, and companies like them are coming to your town. So I hope more towns will work with that relentless energy and turn it to their favour. Suggests Product or Brand Displacement, where the company's presence is seemingly invisable in the community. No logo, no standardised employment or shopping experience.

How about a genuine effort on the part of Woolworths with its vast resources? Create a business that addresses these and many more concerns for the community with real sensitivity, that works into existing businesses, making themselves invisible, enhancing rather than competing, taking responsibility for the impacts they will have, rather than spinning it into a thing we apparently need or want - we don't.

Relating to the comment I've made are a couple of videos produced by ABC TV's Hungry Beast:


Product DISplacement (HUNGRY BEAST)

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