“Locavore” is a term that has been around for about a decade now. It refers to those individuals who prefer to consume food that has been grown or raised locally. It’s a trend that has been steadily growing year after year. “Locavore” was even the Oxford American Dictionary’s Word of the Year in 2007. Restaurants and grocery stores catering to locavores have been springing up in cities and towns all over the nation, as the demand is growing for food that has not been shipped from hundreds, or even thousands, of miles away.
The local trend isn’t just reserved for food, however. Other types of businesses—both retail and service companies—are jumping on the local bandwagon and, rather than trying to directly compete with their larger industry counterparts, they are presenting themselves as a whole different option—one that is in tune with the needs and desires of the local community, and focused on customer service and the customer experience.
A good deal of the momentum experienced by small, local businesses could possibly be attributed to the promotion of Small Business Saturday, which was ironically started by Fortune 100 company, American Express. It didn’t take much time for the idea to catch on, and small local businesses reaped the benefits of increased sales even in the first year it was established. Just one year later, Small Business Saturday was officially recognized by the U.S. Senate, with a resolution supporting the day passing unanimously.
Americans Have Confidence in Small Businesses
Small businesses, which are usually synonymous with local businesses, also have the advantage of being more trusted by consumers. A 2013 Gallup poll shows that small business, as a whole, is one of the most trusted institutions in the country (second only to the military). Big business ranked 13th on the list of 16 American institutions. The only institutions on the list to be less trusted than big business were organized labor, HMOs, and Congress.
Taking Advantage of the Small, Local Trend
Just being small and local isn’t enough. Local businesses would be wise to intentionally market themselves as the small, local option for consumers.
For example, one locksmith company in Fallbrook, California, Fallbrook Local Locksmith, makes special mention of the fact that they are “local” any chance they get. Their website’s home page has the phrase, “Yes, We’re Local” prominently displayed, and their blog frequently discusses the benefits of hiring a local company. The website also mentions that the locksmith company’s owners are members of the community of Fallbrook, so potential customers know they are supporting not only a local business, but a local family.
Tips for Using the Small, Local Trend to Benefit Your Business
Here are a few practical ways small, local businesses can appeal to consumers in their communities:
- Support a local charity or event, and talk about it on your website or company Facebook page. Consumers like knowing that some of the money they are spending is going to effect positive change in their community.
- Get to know your customers on a personal level, and let them get to know you. There’s no better way to gain loyal customers!
- When you advertise, advertise your business and/or its products as “local.” Make sure people understand that they are supporting a family in their community when they purchase your products or services.
- Offer killer customer service and stand behind your products or services. Your customers will be more willing to spend a little extra at your small business if they know they will be taken care of.
Overall, embrace your identity as a small, local business, and focus your marketing efforts and dollars on what differentiates you from your big business competitors.