The continuing rise of localism
Organic, fair-trade, second hand, etc—how people consume constantly changes. Buying locally-sourced products has become highly relevant over recent years and the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the rate at which people are adopting this trend.
It is clear that consumers increasingly want to shop locally, whether that be for access, convenience, higher quality products, and/or to support local small businesses. The “Support/Shop Local” movement has been booming for a few years now, but patriotic consumption has become even more meaningful during the pandemic as global supply chains are being disrupted and the Canadian economy is hurting. What better way to show solidarity and boost the economy than through a local-first mindset?
Several retailers have already adapted to the new consumer behaviour, leveraging the movement by offering “Support Local” features. Shopify, Canada’s answer to Amazon, launched “Shop”; the new consumer app contains a sorting feature that allows people to browse and shop businesses through location filters. This innovative feature is catering to consumers’ increased desire to support others in order to feel part of a country-, city- or neighbourhood-wide community. Buying presents from local artists on Etsy rather than giant sellers on Amazon might be people’s new way of connecting in the midst of isolation and social distancing brought about by the pandemic.
Besides Shopify and Etsy, many other organisations as well as government bodies continue to leverage the potential of the localism movement by adapting more traceable production strategies, marketing to communities & Co. Recognizing that commerce is becoming more human-centric and all about community, the Gouvernement du Québec (Government of Québec) launched “Le Panier Bleu”. The initiative is promoting local businesses and products to encourage people to shop from Québec businesses, aiming to help stimulate the local economy which has suffered tremendously during the COVID-19 pandemic. Together with the provincial government, their agency supported Québec retailers’ digital transformation, empowering them to use the “Le Panier Bleu” platform to showcase and access tech tools, while simultaneously enabling consumers to find thousands of local businesses through the search engine, as well as endless inspirations through the related blog articles and newsletters.
Fact is, people are always reevaluating how they want to spend their time and money. And for a variety of reasons, more and more consumers are now opting to shop locally. Some are doing it to support brands that are important to them (or: align with their values) and to drum up business for pandemic-battered retailers/brands. Others shop local as it tends to be better for the environment and still others simply do it to stay safe as they fear contracting the virus when shopping in large stores among big crowds of people. Regardless of the reason/motivation/intention behind shopping locally, the outcome is always beneficial for the local economy and local businesses alike. We can’t forget that buying small and local is still a privilege reserved for those people able to pay for those often higher priced products.