Lucy Hoang, Senior Research Executive, @NorthstarHub Northstar Research Partners
This article explores the increasing appeal to consumers of goods that are marketed as ‘home-made’, ‘local’ or ‘independent’
As local markets take the limelight (for a fortnight at least), a shadow is cast on the bigger brands. What should the bigger brands be mindful of given the growing appeal of ‘free-from major corporate’ products? Northstar investigates this further.
Traditionally the local market was a place where the local community, on market day, could congregate, purchase goods, while catching up on some local town gossip. Love Your Local Market fortnight, running from 14th May to 28th May, offered 14 whole days of pure indulgence and celebration of the modern day local market. The evolution, comeback and celebration of the local market is not only a great thing in itself, but it also bears great significance in unearthing some of the current consumption practices, consumer priorities and societal issues at play today:
- The growing appreciation of ‘home-made’ and ‘local’
- The importance of civic and social responsibility, e.g. supporting local businesses and UK talent
- The importance of product provenance
- The rising popularity of independent products
Local markets are no longer solely exclusive to a local community or town
The recent proliferation of the local market reveals a lot about consumer shopping and purchase behaviour in recent times. Markets are enjoyed by the young, the trendy, the retired and, in London in particular, the tourist – they are able to draw in a wide spectrum of society who show an appreciation of home-made and local products – the people’s produce.
Following the recession and for a number of years after, the high street suffered a downturn and local markets were given a second breath of fresh air. This gave the local market the chance to not only create a unique positioning for down traders, but also become a ‘better’ alternative – there is no corporate, money-hungry face behind it all. Markets and their traders have become Britain’s proponents of local people, representing civic and social responsibility, giving individuals the feel good factor in supporting the small enterprise in an increasingly corporate world.
The local market celebrates British skills and talent
Local markets occupy a space that serves to celebrate British skills and talent. This is something that can be overlooked given our place in the international community, ease of import of international goods, consumer acceptance of international brands in the market place and the evident influence of North American culture in Britain. Yes, cultural diversity and the appreciation of international culture has its place. Celebrating home grown talent, something that is core and distinctive to the local markets in comparison to the global conglomerate, should be more publically acclaimed.
The local market increases UK economic prowess
We’ve heard the negative attention that high-volume overseas outsourcing has had on the reputations of major corporations. The local market’s celebration of British skills and talent not only celebrates and retains skills in the country but also increases economic activity. The local market has the ability to encourage a new generation of market traders – that the bright lights of Dubai, Down Under or the French ski slopes, aren’t necessarily the only answers in a competitive job market. This in turn increases the economic prowess of the UK.
There has been a shift in consumer priorities where transparency of information, ‘eco’ and health has taken precedence for many. As a result there is a growing trend for fresh, natural and organic, which often comes hand-in-hand with local. Brand stories/communications which focus on provenance or equally align themselves with ‘healthy’ messages can gain brand kudos, particularly relevant given the number of food and clothing supply chain controversies over the number of years. Local markets benefit by embodying these consumer priorities whether it be fresh, home-grown, made or designed by the face behind the stall. Knowing the story behind the product, ‘what you see is what you get,’ is respected, reassuring and establishes trust with the conspicuous consumer.
The growth of local markets has been perpetuated by the rise of subculture
The growing appeal of markets can also be part attributed to the rise and spread of ‘hipster’ subculture. For a growing subset of consumers (who are saying ‘no’ to the major corporates), fine dining is out, street food is the thing to be seen at or know of. Vintage is the new Chanel, being made by the local man/woman is on -trend, as are local markets that cater to these ‘alternative’ needs. Offering local traders a platform to showcase their products to a group that know the ins and outs of the social media sphere, e.g. Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, can only do wonders for the future awareness and profile of Love Your Local Market.
But what are the implications for big brands…?
The Love Your Local Market Fortnight event highlights new consumption practices and priorities whilst celebrating the offer of an alternative to the big branded products and the Dubai malls of tomorrow. The bottom line, small scale and local can resonate. Big brands should take into account and be aware that there is more than just the immediate competition potentially operating in their space; there is also the local underdog, brands and products that are not easily accessible to measure and track performance against.
Evolving consumption practices suggest that independent brands and products are gradually taking centre stage, gaining traction, and crucially gaining likeability with the ‘L’ factor. The question is, how will big brands negotiate LYLM’s ongoing strategy to increase awareness, relevancy and affections towards local markets?