The seemingly-everlasting pandemic has shed new light on the meaning of truly supporting local business.
A longtime movement to support local businesses through various initiatives, such as farmers markets or craft fairs, has exploded in recent years (and recent months) — shining a spotlight on how many small businesses are hurting or even closing at rapid rates.
With shutdowns and a wave of working at home, consumers are spending more time in their community. Additional time at home has helped many realize the abundance of local options, enhancing their desire to support those options and keep money local. In fact, 57% of Americans say they shop local to help businesses stay local, and of that group, 38% simply shop local because they want to support their community. Small to moderately-sized businesses should realize the opportunity presented and take advantage of some easy ways to capitalize on this movement.
Although the “support local” movement is generally geared towards growers and producers, the same idea can still be used for your brand. Consumers are intrigued by the story of the business or the brand: around 86 percent of consumers say authenticity is important when deciding what brands they like and support (Mohsin, 2020).
Authenticity can mean many different things, but for local businesses, the support for your product or service is increased when you offer a connection. Americans are not only more disconnected than ever due to the pandemic, but increased internet usage has shown to actually decrease social ability and increase depression and loneliness (Kraut et al., 1998). When local brands give consumers a backstory to their business and provide a face to the name, customers can build that connection to your local offerings.
As you dive deeper into studies on shopping local, it is intriguing to discover that Americans want to shop local — when given the choice, 82.76% of consumers say they would shop local compared to a large corporation, and many would spend more money on local goods compared to a cheaper option at a chain (Red Egg Marketing, 2021).
The thing holding shoppers back? Convenience.
Consider taking the time to step in the shoes of the customer, and walk through your purchase experience. Whether your business offers products or services, it is important to realize the simple things matter.
Some simple ways to start:
While technology is an increasing necessity, local businesses can still have a leg up in the competition by literally putting their best face forward. Studies show a face-to-face request or pitch is 34x more successful compared to email (Bohns, 2017) — remember, the customer wants that connection, so an actual face to the name or business can go a lot further to win loyalty than big corporations’ paid advertisements.
It’s no surprise that in today's world, an internet search is often the first step for product or service research. A recent study showed that 7 in 10 Americans check up on a brand by website, social media, or customer review before a visit (Red Egg Marketing, 2021).
Being a local business does not necessarily mean that the entire community is aware of what you have to offer. Start with website optimization by putting your business location on Google My Business, so customers can learn what they need to the way they increasingly pursue that information.
Although you may not have the budget of the giant corporations, your foothold in the community can be used to your advantage. Create content that is authentic and shows how you do things.
Most importantly, keep the local mindset! Here are some simple tips:
Today’s consumers are more interested in helping their community grow than supporting a nation-wide chain. Start by re-introducing yourself to the community and see the benefit of your location.
As you consider optimizing your workspaces, one easy comparative model that can help sort out your options is the Organization-Chaos Spectrum.