Can local product become the product of choice? Or has it already become just that?
There are many different reasons why local products may become the preference for consumers. The percentage of the market that is won by local producers is growing as consumers change the way they approach what they purchase. The largest part of the consumer market will always be taken up by the big box stores and fast food joints; their rate and cost of production is just too fast and too cheap. People have, however, begun to see through a lot of these producers. Not only that, but they are also factoring in the benefits of supporting local business.
Food would be the first thing to cause concern. Preservatives, additives, just plain old fat, are some of the things that consumers are constantly aware of. The most recent example of this was an additive Subway was using in its bread to keep it seemingly fresh. The additive has also been used in yoga mats. Now they run ads stating they no longer use the additive. Well that’s just lovely, all is forgiven, move on. But maybe it’s not that simple.
Instances like this will never “bury” a business as large as Subway, but they can certainly make open the eyes of the public. The obvious benefits of avoiding fast food, microwave dinners, and empty meals can be replaced with the obvious benefits to consuming natural products. The best way to be sure that natural, organic, and local product sticks around, is to buy them. Food is such a big business that it is hard to wrap your head around every pro and con thrown in your direction. From vegan to carnivore, there will always be the struggle to make good choices. The way your food is produced and sold should have the weightiest impact on your choices.
I throw around the word trend a lot, and I wouldn’t put supporting local past the trending title. The trend of shopping local is heavily influence by our most heavily used digital streams. For me, the biggest influence on the influx of supporting local is social media. Consumers feel that connection to local clothing shops, breweries, restaurants, food trucks, antique stores, etc. when they have a relationship with them. Although we have become such a digitally inclined society, we also use those digital interactions to evaluate feeling. Our feelings for local business increase and become stronger the more we connect with them. This also contributes to local businesses supporting each other. Locally produced product sold within locally owned stores speaks volumes to the connections established.
When it comes to supporting local, there is also a strong sense of pride. Being proud of your city is not a trend, but in fact an age old tradition. The trend now is having avenues to express that pride. People should feel good about themselves for ignoring Walmart and finding a great local merchant. The quality always seems to be there with local product, because you just couldn’t make a go of it if it wasn’t. So as a consumer, when you purchase and use/consume a quality local product, it is not just the vendor that gains your support; it is the community.
Social ties are never uncomplicated, and this is no different. Community has always been an important choice in where we establish our roots. Local products that are available to the community now factors into that choice. These are the things that gives big cities the “small town feel”, and because of the trendiness, it gives small towns the “big city feel”. So as it would seem, local product only produces positive results.