Local grocery bag
August 31, 2015 by Kelly Rusk

Learning from Local: What the Trend Means for You and for Your Business

You’re familiar with this picture, right?

You’re sipping on a cup of fair-trade java from your neighborhood coffee shop, letting the rest of your day slowly take shape. You say goodbye to the barista and head down to the local farmers market. While you’re there, you pick up free-range eggs and organic produce, and stop by the bakery to get some artisanal bread. And on your way home, you decide to check out the newest microbrewery for a pint with friends.

This short scenario is an example of a typical local experience. An umbrella term these days, “local” has come to encompass both a shift in ideology and way of life for an increasing number of people. Local can represent anything from a consumer’s emphasis on quality over quantity, an infusion of money into the local economy, an effort to limit of our carbon footprint and a gesture of support for brands that operate using sustainable and ethically responsible business models.

To some, local may sound like a fad. But to us it sounds like a great thing to be a part of. And it makes it a lot of sense, business-wise, too.

The local movement — then and now

The modern movement of “local” has its foundation securely rooted in food. In its early stages, local was often associated with alternative lifestyles and subcultures, and meant nothing more than purchasing produce, dairy, meat and eggs from farmers markets.

A number of factors have contributed to the rise in popularity and exposure of the movement since the early 2000’s. With the wealth of information that the Internet has brought into our lives, many consumers have become increasingly health conscious, and interested in where their food is coming from and how it is produced. Limiting our impact on the environment also became a high priority for many shoppers. Purchasing goods grown locally helps control the amount of pollution produced by having food travel significantly shorter distances.

Fast-forward to today, and local has proven itself to be more than just a flash in the pan. In its current incarnation, the definition has expanded to also include being environmentally conscious, transitioning away from big-box stores and using purchasing power as a seal of approval to influence societal shifts.

Ironically, local, as a movement, is also not so local anymore — a testament to the far-reaching impact of its philosophies and benefits.

Businesses have a lot to gain by acting locally

Sure, local is great for consumers, but what does the trend mean for businesses? More than just a buzzword in today’s marketing plans, there are real advantages to making the transition to a local model.

Community involvement and philanthropy pay intangible dividends by demonstrating that an organization cares about more than just their bottom line. It also helps bring a more human dimension to a legal entity, and develop meaningful, mutually beneficial relationships with audiences — ensuring the long-term success of both the business and the local economy it is a part of.

A great example of this is online coupon giant Groupon, whose success depends on ensuring the success of the local businesses they offer their users discounts to. Closer to home, Ottawa coffee shop chain Bridgehead has enjoyed success (now up to 16 locations) by reinvesting in the community through outreach and events, and creating additional jobs by roasting their beans locally.

And the results of this trend speak for themselves. According to a study conducted in the United States, over 50 per cent of consumers who frequent small businesses do so to support their local economy and 84 per cent rank the friendlier, more personalized experience ‘of high importance’ when choosing a local business.

Looking to get involved locally?

Having been around for over 40 years, Banfield is no stranger to the power of local. Located in the small Ottawa neighborhood of Hintonburg since 1997, we have witnessed first-hand the positive effects of taking an active role and creating some value for the community.

If you’re interested in hearing some of the insights we’ve gained from our local efforts, and how they could be applied to your business, get in touch with us. You know where to find us.

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