There are people who go to farmer’s markets. I am one of them. I go because local food really does taste better. I go because, to me, a Saturday morning trip to the farmer’s market is an event, while a normal grocery store trip is a chore. But most importantly, I go because I believe firmly in supporting my local neighbors. And I’m not the only one.
In fact, I’m just one among millions of New Economy Consumers whose values—particularly consumer values—have shifted significantly since the Recession. In the early days of the Recession, people reined in their wallets, and with their wallets, their reach. Consumers rediscovered the beauty and resources of their local world. With this rediscovery, came a commitment to sustainability, responsibility, and neighbors.
The power of the local movement hasn’t been lost on marketers. In fact, “local” is beginning to appear more frequently in product advertising these days. Is “local” the new “green?” It’s hard to tell yet, but we know two things: 1) the local movement is growing steadily and 2) like the green movement, it relies on authenticity to succeed. Of course, this is great news for small businesses, who are perfectly positioned to capitalize on this new economy trend.
But what does it mean if you’re not a small business? Perhaps there’s nothing “local” about your organization at all – and that distinction is core to your brand. Consider what it is about “local” that appeals to consumers. At its most basic, local really means “familiar,” “connection,” and “home.” When a company understands this, they’re no longer limited by zip code to tap into the power of local.
For example, American Express sponsored Small Business Saturday last year, a national initiative that encouraged shoppers to support local businesses in their towns on the day after Black Friday. Wal-Mart – a super corporation – is also embracing the local movement as part of its new sustainability efforts. Their commitment to sourcing some of their produce locally (within the state) means that Wal-Mart shoppers in South Carolina can purchase SC sweet potatoes and Wal-Mart shoppers in Alabama can purchase AL tomatoes.
Large or small, organizations who want to reach these valuable New Economy Consumers need to emphasize personal connection and the familiar in their marketing efforts.