ADVOCATE COLUMN 4th WEEK JULY 2018
Intuitively most people would think that buying local must be the right thing to do. This does not mean that consumers should be blindly loyal to local regardless of how good or bad their service is and how responsive they are to their changing markets but rather where most things are equal or near to it, buying from a local business has a whole range of other benefits to the community in which the consumer lives. Without getting into an in-depth conversation about what constitutes a local business let’s consider why engaging with local businesses is not a bad thing to do.
If we want to live where we want to live because of the environment, standards of living, family connections or cultural ties, then it is essential that we also have access to the goods and services that we need to live there and employment that allows us the ability to purchase those goods and services. In other words, they make a place liveable. These businesses provide a mix of culture and community that can be unique and add to a locations diversity and character.
This is not to say there is no place for national chains or online retail nor that business of that nature are necessary. Rather it is about consumers understanding the importance of a diverse integrated offering and how local -whatever local is- provides stimulus to the local economy, provides employment and every dollar spent has a significant multiplier effect.
If we take it as a given then that most of us are predisposed to buying local then the all that is required tis for the local business to fulfil their part of the bargain. That is that they are incredibly customer focussed, that they offer value and a quality product or service which is relatively comparable if not better than non-local. Also, they need tell their story well which is not always easy given the sometimes-significant difference in marketing budgets between local and others.
Finally, they must be easy to do business with and to this end it makes sense that if they expect others to be supportive of them, then they must also support the same kaupapa. They should be committed to being a part of and supporting the local business community in which they operate. This means recognising at times competition is good not just for the consumer but for businesses as it provides them with a challenge to lift their performance and continually improve to create a vibrant and sustainable business environment.