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The changing Channel Islands media landscape

18th September 2020

This is an article about a market - media in the Channel Islands - being disrupted. I promise I won’t say ‘unprecedented’, but it’s fair to say that change in media, as in lots of other walks of life, is rapid and wholesale. And there’s a clear impact on businesses in the islands and how they talk to, engage with and serve their customers.

Here’s some data from April this year, showing two very clear changes in behaviour coming about because of lockdown:

First, people on the islands are feeling a stronger sense of community. This growing sense of togetherness is not unique to the islands, but it is accentuated here. An already close community is getting even closer it seems.

Second, 83% of islanders have been making more use of online services.

Source: Island Global Research, March 26-April 23.

Activity shifting online is of course nothing new, but it’s striking to see how quickly change happens when we have no choice but to do things differently...

    •    24% of people on the islands have started online banking or are using it more often 

    •    32% have started shopping online or are doing so more often

    •    55% of people have started using social media or are doing so more often

An effect of people not being able to go to shops, and perhaps a contributor to the heightened sense of community is the fact that more and more shopping is being delivered. From groceries to take-aways to household goods, businesses that didn’t need to in the past have started showing up at people’s front doors. The channels the orders are placed in may have changed, but for now, at least we know the fishmonger, the ironmonger and the woman who delivers eggs and milk. It’s like the 1950s all over again!

Back to Channel Island media though. The change in social media activity is particularly interesting because it sits right at the nexus of online and community growth. It’s not just the kids either (although TikTok is quite the thing here): further research released by Orchard PR has found that 74% of Guernsey respondents working in finance, law or IT say they use Instagram at least once a day (Source: Orchard PR, Social Insights, June 2020). 

Where (well-to-do) people go, businesses follow. And unlike traditional media, social channels and digital more widely is both a place where businesses can advertise and operate. Some businesses are doing so well out of the business model they’ve been forced to adopt, they will continue with it post-pandemic. 

Take Dandy Coffee in Jersey (great coffee by the way). Like many island businesses Dandy Coffee pivoted during the pandemic to home delivery of their excellent food and drink, listing on www.fetch.je, the ‘one-stop marketplace for collection and delivery from local businesses’, posting tasty-looking pictures of their food as well as delivery menus and instructions for perfect home coffee to their 2,000+ followers on both Instagram and Facebook (Dandy Coffee Instagram page). Dandy Coffee has opened again but will remain a food delivery business as well as a coffee shop. It was always a community business, but because of the pandemic, it is now a digital and social business too.

During lockdown, we worked with Aladdin’s Cave, a large general retailer in Guernsey to help them maintain sales during lockdown. We could have launched a full e-commerce site in reasonable time but Facebook gave us immediate reach and the capability to get products up quickly without the need for a complex build and a significant drain on client funds. Using Messenger and post comments as our insights tool, we were able to respond quickly to customer needs and help them navigate 1000s of products in-store from their sofa. Our mechanic was simple, we posted products on Facebook and directed people to a simple order form for manual fulfillment and over the phone confirmation. It worked for both parties, customers could browse and Aladdin’s Cave could maintain their personal service without heavy investment during a time of uncertainty. We kept a minimal viable digital approach and it worked.

Again, the shift to digital is nothing new. It’s been the biggest story of business disruption and value creation of the last 30 years. And the impact of the shift to digital on traditional media is nothing new either. 

This is data from the US but the same story is playing out the world over. Even pre-pandemic, the growth of digital (in red) had already disrupted the advertising market, ripping share out of all traditional advertising channels and playing havoc with media businesses. 

Source: https://www.ben-evans.com/presentations

Local media publishers may have been insulated from this disruption for a time but the accelerated shift to digital and social ecosystems like Fetch and Instagram during the pandemic makes it clear that this is no longer the case.

Change in the media landscape and therefore in marketing has been unprecedented for some time (whoops I said it). About 15 years ago Facebook had just bought the URL facebook.com, YouTube and Twitter didn’t exist and Amazon had only recently started selling more than books. The pandemic however has forced businesses to think digitally, often for the first time, so change that was already dramatic has become more so. 

Businesses on the islands are evolving rapidly, and only the most independent, channel-agnostic thinking from their agency partner can help them navigate and take full advantage of this change. Old models and old marketing may not work anymore. New business and marketing strategies and, in many cases, operating structures are needed now. We’re working with our clients to help them grow in this brand new world. 

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Where do we go next? Let’s find a way together