Buy local campaigns encourage customers to purchase locally produced goods and services instead of those from other regions or countries.
They are usually touted as ways to support and protect local businesses and jobs, in turn stimulating regional and national economic growth and development. In recent years, buy local campaigns have also been positioned as strategies to reduce customers’ environmental footprint.
Businesses that want to be associated with the initiative are asked to pay a fee, in exchange for which they are able to display the campaign’s logo on their products and marketing materials (subject to the business having met certain selection criteria related to quality and local content provisions amongst other things). Businesses also benefit from the marketing and promotional activities conducted by the organisation running the campaign.
Spurred by patriotism and a new-found (or rediscovered) respect and appreciation for local products and services, customers are then supposed to make more conscious purchasing decisions, opting for businesses or products associated with the buy local campaign. In South Africa, one prominent example is the ProudlySA campaign. Launched in 2001, Proudly South African is a public-private partnership to promote the purchase of goods and services produced in South Africa. Uppermost in the minds of small business owners is the question, ‘are buy local campaigns an effective marketing tool?
There does not appear to be a clear-cut answer to this question. A consumer survey commissioned by Proudly South African in 2009 showed high recognition levels for the Proudly South African logo (at 81%), and that 74% of consumers surveyed had purchased products with the Proudly South African logo in the three months before the survey was conducted. However, the survey findings are silent on the issue of the extent to which purchasing decisions were directly influenced by recognition of and preference for products bearing the Proudly South African logo. Nor is there publicly available information on the experiences and perceptions of small business owners who have been affiliated with the Proudly South African campaign.
Internationally, research conducted in the United States in 2010 Newrules.org found that independent businesses in communities with active buy local campaigns experienced stronger revenue growth in 2010 than those in communities without such campaigns. This was partly attributed to the marketing exposure of the buy local campaign either attracting new customers or making existing customers more loyal. Independent business owners also reported that they received more support from local government officials as a result of the buy local campaigns in their respective cities.
A 2009 consumer survey (Australianmade.com) to gauge the impact of the Australian Made, Australian Grown campaign found that 94% of surveyed Australians recognised the Australian Made, Australian Grown logo, 65% buy local whenever they can, and 43% specifically look for the Australian Made, Australian Grown logo to identify genuine Australian products. It seems that buy local campaigns can be effective.
But small business owners should play an active role in contributing to the success of the campaign, and also set high standards to ensure accountability and a return on their investment where membership fees and other payments are involved.
Post By: Fadzai Munyaradzi