Made here is best! What is driving consumers to buy local?

Renewed consumer interest in local consumption is a global phenomenon, and is being fuelled by an interesting and interlinked range of influences post-recession. These take in Web 2.0, thrift and downsizing, green and safety concerns, patriotism and a degree of disillusionment with globalisation. All are encouraging a shrinking of the consumer radius.

Local means different things to different people; some see it as a very small area, no bigger than a city, others a region, while others the borders of their state or nation. Consumers everywhere, however, are refocusing much of their lifestyles, including their purchasing habits, on retailers and service providers nearer home.

There is evidence that an interest in the local is linked to a particular mindset. In a report in the April 2009 edition of the Journal of Consumer Research, scientists believe they’ve discovered why some people prefer local and others gravitate towards global brands – most consumers have intrinsic mindsets pointing them towards global or local sensibilities – an inclination linked to people’s desire for distinctiveness (local) versus their desire to be similar to others (global)

Patriotic consumption is linked to the economic downturn but likely to linger post-recession.  The consumer wish to support his or her own country is often tied in with a distrust of global corporations whom consumers feel are somehow part of the worrying level of connectivity (and hence risk) built into the global financial system  – all to blame for the recession.

Some examples of recent patriotic-style consumption follow:

  • In Russia, where car sales are up, Russians are buying patriotic – “Made in Russia” is the label driving sales
  • The recent Milan fashion week kicked off with a ballet performance “An Italian dream” highlighting the heritage of the ‘Made in Italy’ brand
  • The Buy Kenyan, Build Kenya brand