Craving authenticity Going local
“Eating local is good both for employment in my country, and good for me as there is less transportation and less conservative chemicals.” Valerie Planchez, strategy director at Saatchi & Saatchi + Duke
As regional claims for a separate identity are being revived around the world;, executives are becoming concerned by rising labor costs in emerging countries, long lead times and fragile global supply chains. On the one hand, “localism” is capturing the consumer’s imagination, as many increasingly care about others and society as a whole, reject commercialism and the prevalence of chain stores; on the other hand, global brands are courting local cultural relevance and tastes.
Consumers are increasingly going for niche brands, small shops, artisanal objects, which are all synonyms of better quality to them.
In Western countries and particularly in Europe, people are rejecting globalization, big corporations and mass-manufactured products. They are increasingly going for niche brands, small shops, and artisanal objects, which are all synonyms of better quality to them. The trend around localism has gained great momentum these past few years and accounts for consumers’ preference for products signifying certain places, people and traditions of local, regional, and national culture.
In markets undergoing industrial food production, consumers feel increasingly concerned with the origins of their sustenance. They are becoming distrustful of the industrialised food chain and origin matters in the context of product safety concerns, particularly ingredient and production integrity. Consumers have more trust in ingredients from their own region and country. A “place brand” provides an aura of trust and a perceived guarantee of quality. Provenance will be an ever-more important factor shaping purchasing decisions, especially with shoppers who are now more easily able to find information on the origins of products and services. In France, for instance, the consumer has become suspicious, mostly because of all the food crises. Identified as an evidence of better quality, “Made in France” products are growing in popularity. In addition, consumers link localism with employment.
Four out of five US shoppers (76%) notice “Made in the USA” claims and labels, and are more likely to purchase these products, stated a 2012 study by Perception Research.
Big cities see the multiplication of organizations designed to maintain peasant agriculture (like “AMAP”), or similar initiatives such as “La Ruche qui dit oui” (for local products online ordering), which are appealing to more and more consumers. In the same vein, four out of five US shoppers (76%) notice “Made in the USA” claims and labels, and are more likely to purchase these products, stated a 2012 study by Perception Research. In North America, food provenance has come to the forefront of consumer’s minds, with more than two-thirds (70%) of US shoppers saying they would be willing to pay a premium for locally sourced food. As a result, hunting is enjoying renewed relevance among consumers who want to eat their own local food. Female hunters are an increasingly prevalent demographic, with the activity being glamorised by a slew of feminist icons. In addition, foraging particularly pleases vegetarians and offers a good opportunity for city-dwellers to make sure their food comes from where they live.
Supporting local production
Paradoxically, globalized social networks and economies have driven a strong consumer appetite for supporting local businesses. For many citizens, “global” has come to represent mega-corporations and international bodies seen as being out of touch with local issues or simply using (and abusing) their scale to out-manoeuver local organizations in a relentless pursuit of profit. The generally positive “halo” of local/origin-specific products is also linked with inherent production delocalization. Localism can therefore reflect the preservation of local identities in a globalized world and the pride and promotion of one’s own culture. Ethnocentric preferences exacerbate the favorability of national or local products and brands. And disintermediating tools, like peer-to-peer lending, have helped drive that appetite too.
Localism can reflect the preservation of local identities in a globalized world as well as the pride in and promotion of one’s own culture.
Shopping locally is understood to be a public good since it supports workers and their families right in the consumers’ own backyards. If shopping locally is good, then investing is even better. Observers say that investors are increasingly interested in putting their money into local mom-and-pop shops through direct public offerings (DPOs) rather than into the equities of huge, faceless corporations sold through distant brokerages. Investing locally is seen as a powerful way to support grass-roots businesses — and, incidentally, get a better rate of emotional and financial return. In her book, author Amy Cortese has even given this strategy a name: “Locavesting”.
The Whole Foods Market in NYC’s Bowery has partnered with Brooklyn’s Smorgasburg, a one-stop outdoor market that sells artisanal, local foods and beverages. Then, another partnership occurred with Brooklyn Flea via the launch of Smorgasburg Snack in mid-March 2013, a locally focused snack bar and specialty shop, offering a variety of handmade products from baked goods and beverages to tea towels and apparel.
United States, March 2013
Five apps to locate nearby food producers
French consumers’ appetites for local ingredients is getting more practical. In an effort to help people eat more sustainable and local foods, the French government has recommended five apps to locate nearby food producers in a simple and convenient way. The apps aim to make it easier for tourists and locals to discover traditional specialties. Keldelice connects consumers directly with producers and inspiring regional recipes, while Bienvenue à la Ferme offers a farmers directory. 200 km à la ronde lists hotspots for locavores, Gastronomie en Acquitaine is a regional products guide, and consumers can hunt down chefs’ favorite local producers through Baladovore.
France, October 2013
Cocco Bello produces organic creamed honey in a small village in the Ural mountains, where locals cultivate bees and hand-pick wild berries. The project also contributes to developing the community Malyi Turish that is located 1500 km away from Moscow. Cocco Bello’s founder, Guzel Sanzhapova, promotes her shop through friends and locals. She often tells the story of her beekeeper-father and how he has provided employment for almost the entire village. She uses social networks and crowdfunding site Boomstarter to explain the humanitarian importance of local businesses. The project already provides employment for 18 villagers, has built a playground for children and started a project to build a central water supply. Now they want to scale the production in order to increase their social impact.
Russia, February 2014
La ferme de Gally
Although farmers’ markets have existed for decades, they are regaining interest from MIllennials, from the traditional “mercados” in the Peruvian Andes to the unique street markets in Asia to the little farmer’s markets in big capitals. Growers all over the world gather weekly to sell their produce directly to the public at a designated public place like a park or parking lot. It has become a weekly ritual for many individuals and families as shopping at a farmers’ market is a great way to meet local farmers and get fresh, flavorful produce. La ferme de Gally in Paris’ suburbs is a good example of this phenomenon.
Today, consumers are increasingly sensitive about the quality of the food they buy and eat. With that in mind, French online grocery Balibert aims to make accessible to the broader audience possible the best of French terroir, by offering a range of healthy and authentic products. Balibert offers genuine local products while leading a young and dynamic communication between consumer and producer. It shows great transparency by emphasizing the origin of products and brings value to local producers through the edition of synthetic fact sheets in order to establish proximity between them and the final consumer.
France, May 2014
Business & Marketing guidelines
|Root your product differentiation on the fact that consumers perceive differences in products based on origin.|
|Engage more effectively at the local community level, strengthening local labels and local production, and tapping into community issues.|
|Think partnerships. National retailers are often perceived as enemies of local producers. Partnering with and holding events that promote small vendors give big businesses a warmer, fuzzier image that consumers respond to. By bringing local artisanal food vendors, grocery stores position themselves in the middle of the trend and stake their claim in the community.|
|Keep in mind that anything in people’s larger neighborhood/city/state/experience — even chain C-stores and drugstores or Etsy-like creations from other states — can be “local.” For Millennials, “local” is more a measure of scale and personal interaction than geography.|
|Think less “local is safer” and more “local is more authentic and interesting.”|
- Local products are capturing the consumer’s imagination as more consumers care about others and society as a whole, reject commercialism and the prevalence of chain stores, and global brands court local cultural relevance and tastes.
- Consumers are becoming distrustful of the industrialised food chain and origin matters in the context of product safety concerns, particularly ingredient and production integrity.
- Four out of five US shoppers (76%) notice “Made in the USA” claims and labels, and are more likely to purchase these products (Source: Perception Research, July 2012). In North America, food provenance has come to the forefront of consumer’s minds, with more than two-thirds (70%) of US shoppers saying they would be willing to pay a premium for locally sourced food.
- Globalized social networks and economies have driven a strong consumer appetite for supporting local business.