Strategy Nine out of 10 Australians prefer to buy locally made products. To understand this trend, we must first define what local means for food businesses.
Most dictionary definitions define “local” as along the lines of “existing in or belonging to the area where you live, or to the area that you are talking about”. The definition of local is as confusing as ever and, as a result, as a business, you need to decide on your definition of local and communicate this to the consumer.
It’s not as simple as placing a sign on a product or outside the store telling people you are local and expecting sales to increase.
I was recently working with a small business that promoted “buy local” and I asked one of the team why I, as a consumer, should support Love local products and businesses. I got a blank look and an eventual “I don’t know”.
I am an advocate of supporting local businesses and local products, but it is more than telling people you are local on
a sign. Research indicates if we buy from local suppliers and retailers, $73 in every $100 stays in the community, compared with $43 in every $100 staying in the community if we purchase non-local or shop at a chain. One of the keys to shopping local is to ensure the money keeps circulating in the community.
Local is not only an Australian trend, but it is also a global trend, with many communities developing local campaigns. The key is to develop a strategy that really works for your business. It’s also essential to work with your team to engage them in building a local strategy.
When developing a strategy, the following ideas may help you get the message across.
Blackboards/Sandwich boards give the right image
We live in a world of social media and while getting the message across via social media is important, don’t forget traditional methods are also important. Blackboards in-store promoting the product can allow you to be topical and provide the right image.
A message on a blackboard can put a smile on the customer’s face and generate sales. I loved a sandwich board I saw placed outside of a pub in London after a robbery overnight. It read: “This pub is so good someone tried to get in eight hours before we open!”
Sandwich boards can humanize the business. If you are a local business, place pictures up of yourselves; it shows the business has a face.
Provide a map in-store showing where the product comes from
Consumers are becoming more aware of where produce comes from. Have a picture of the producer and a map showing where they are located. This helps with getting the message across. The shorter the field-to-fork journey, the better for all concerned.
Support local community groups and show who you support
It’s more than selling Love local: make it a strategy, it’s about engaging with the local community. Select which community groups your business should engage with and use this as a promotional tool in the community.
Train the team as to why local is important
People buy from people and the more your team can engage with the consumer and explain why local is important, the more credibility the business has in the customer’s eyes. Do not only train them on the merits of local, but make sure they engage with the consumer, especially on local issues.
‘Local’ gives local businesses an opportunity to be entrepreneurs in their community. Large organisations need time to make changes; local business can do it tomorrow.