For the love of local. The behaviours all retailers should be tapping into.

It’s no surprise that the pandemic pushed people to start making better purchase decisions after dramatically changing the way we were able to shop.  Unsurprisingly the amount of money spent online sky-rocketed over the pandemic, but so did consumers’ desire to shop locally and support small businesses around them. And, the love for local is impacting all of us. 

A higher percentage of Boomers (our wonderful grandparents) said that they try to shop locally more than any other generation, but millennials and Gen Z didn’t tail too far behind.

Throughout 2020 there was huge growth in the number of consumers using independent stores, greengrocers, butchers and bakeries all close to home. While there was around a 35% decrease in overall consumer spend throughout this time, the independent stores have seen a 63% increase. 

And it doesn’t look like this is slowing down. 

The pandemic opened peoples eyes to what was available around them and have been left pleasantly surprised by what they have found (BIRA). Not only is it easier and more convenient to shop locally, but it is also more rewarding. There is a newly formed community spirit due to the positive experiences consumers had with homegrown businesses throughout lockdown, with more than 9 in 10 people who have shopped locally saying they will continue to do so (Barclaycard).

Here’s our view on why this is happening and some of the motivations that sit behind it.

  • To support the local economy

These actions allow consumers to feel a sense of belonging. Being part of something bigger than yourself and becoming an integral part of the community creates a tribe mentality. Tribes are connected by similar interests and behaviours which make supporting the local economy even more important.

  • It’s actually more convenient

As shoppers, convenience is key. And convenience is often enough motivation to act in a certain way. Without being able to travel far and wide for the things you desired, it was convenient to shop local and luckily, these experiences were positive.

  • It is more environmentally friendly 

Knowing you are helping the bigger picture provides a sense of fulfilment. By expressing personal values about the environment through local shopping, there are more positive feelings about purchasing in this way and this positive reinforcement motivates you to repeat the behaviour.

  • Better value for money  

Money is a default motivator that influences us all. It is no surprise that a majority of consumers are rather sensitive to price. However, they also consider other factors such as quality, service and value. With homegrown businesses, there is a positive theme of these three things which makes shopping local much easier. 

  • The quality of the products is much better  

A majority of consumers believe quality is important, but it is much deeper than just that; we also care about social status and reputation. What people say about you when you’re not in the room weighs heavily on us all and so, by purchasing better quality products from the local community you are expressing behaviour that your peers will respect.

So what once appeared like a high risk move – swapping your well-loved supermarket for an independent store – has now become an extremely positive behaviour change. It is better for not only yourself, but the community and the environment too. Thanks to social proof, copying others’ shopping behaviours has been great for local retailers and helped the high street to thrive again.

The challenge for the national retailers is how they counter this – how can they build strategies around belonging, fulfilment and status.

As you can imagine we have a few opinions on this, and we’d be delighted to share them with you.

We’re The Behaviours Agency.

At every stage of the customer journey we find creative ways to give our clients the advantage. We do it by creating preference.

Preference is being ahead of the competition in the customer’s mind. That means being more motivating, more top-of-mind and easier to choose.

If you want help being the preferred choice for your customers, get in touch today.

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By Meg Slip

Senior Account Executive