The internet has turned traditional marketing on its head and successful companies today have heeded the warning that only the most creative will survive. The buzz phrase "buy local" has made its way into the national lexicon, but it's a concept that warrants some investigation.
A recent article from CNN Money says that buy local campaigns may "supercharge" sales, which is terrific news for small businesses. CNN reports that the buy local movement drew supporters during the recession when buying locally was seen as the best way to support the economy and local communities.
Consumers Appreciate Buy Local Campaigns
A report on local buying from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) provides some insight on this concept. According to the USDA:
Farmers' market customers buy local because they: want to keep farmers in the area, support the local economy, and enjoy the shopping experience.
Although the USDA's report concerns purchases of food the concept is a universal idea that impacts any small business operating a retail store that relies upon local customers. Consumers enjoy supporting local businesses, which means an effective buy local campaign offers excellent profit opportunities.
Case Studies of Buy Local Campaigns
The sunny city of Santa Monica, California has an active and personable buy local campaign that the local government helped create alongside several small businesses in the city. The simple presentation of the campaign offers answers to questions like "who, what, where, when & why" to give consumers reasons, places, and opportunities to buy local.
The campaign makes it easy for local businesses to join the effort and the group keeps an active list of local events where consumers can interact with local business owners. Their recent effort features a "Bike Local" partnership with Santa Monica Spoke, which is a local bicycling club where residents can take part in Bike Week LA festivities while supporting local businesses.
Organizers in Utah came up with an interesting campaign to inspire residents to buy local when they created the "Shift Your Spending" event. Held during the holiday season in 2013, the campaign asked participants to shift 10% of the money they spent on holiday shopping to locally-owned businesses.
Interestingly, a study conducted by Local First Utah and the American Booksellers Association (ABA) found that over 55% of the revenue earned by locally-owned businesses was fed back into the local community. Conversely, big chains and franchises fed less than 14% of their revenue back into the local economy.
Another holiday effort to inspire shoppers to buy local was also successful in a pair of North Side neighborhoods in Chicago where the "Unwrap" campaign led to almost $100,000 in spending at local neighborhood retailers. The campaign rewarded shoppers who chose to spend at least $300 at local shops with a $50 gift card to a local restaurant.
Although shoppers had to spend a significant amount of money to receive the gift card, the director of the area's Chamber of Commerce said that shoppers routinely spent much more than the minimum and that average spending for each participant was just over $400.
Avoid These Common Blunders
The American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA) offers some sage advice on avoiding frequent mistakes that businesses make when designing a buy local campaign. Don't get caught utilizing any of the following in your buy local campaign:
- Feature large chain stores or franchises
- Display a political preference within the campaign
- Create a narrow campaign without enough information
- Assume that any buy local effort will succeed
- Focus only on consumers instead of on the community
- Make the campaign too complex
Make Your "Buy Local" Campaign a Success
Successful businesses thrive upon new techniques to reach customers and aren't stuck in the past with the sales habits of yesteryear. Buy local campaigns may mean tremendous success for new and veteran companies alike.
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