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The Made in Canada Advantage

A BDC report published at the end of 2013 found that consumers have a growing interest in products made in Canada. It found that two thirds of Canadians have made an effort to buy local, or Canadian-made products, with one third willing to pay a 15 percent premium.

What is Driving the Buy Local Trend?

Buying local is not necessarily a new trend, especially for BC, but it is a movement that is growing.

Interestingly, according to a study by Vancouver-based Conscientious Innovation (Ci), the importance of buying local increases with age, from 46 percent for 18-24 year olds to 76 percent for those over 65, however is consistent across all household income brackets.

The BDC report claims that the reason behind the trend is three-fold:

  • Customers are now more aware of their individual impact on the economy, and how buying local creates jobs and improves infrastructure
  • Customers are concerned with the environmental impact of their choices
  • Customers are also concerned with ethical business practices and whether businesses are living by their CSR policies or if they are purely mission statements.

What does Buy Local Mean?

The definition of local is often a contentious issue and one that is much debated at LOCO BC, a non-profit local business alliance based in Vancouver. They recently published the following definition, from a local economic development point of view:

LOCO_Local_Infographic

Image by LOCO BC ,  Buying Local: more than a nice idea , February 4, 2014 by Katja Macura

How you can Use the Buy Local Trend to Your Advantage

Amy Quarry, the creator of Small Town Love, an initiative which started in Quesnel to support independent businesses, shared her tips on how you can use your local links to your advantage:

  • Share your business history and values and allow customers to identify and build relationships with the owners
  • If manufacturing products, share how you research, develop, design and assemble your product locally.
  • If you are a store or service, highlight the local products your sell or use through signage and marketing.
  • Use social media to build relationships with the local businesses you work with. It’s an easy way to communicate and support each other and clearly displays to customers that you are true to your marketing.
  • Proudly display either physically in a store or online, how you have supported local community events and charities. Photos, thank you cards, news items are all good to help display your local values.

The Impact of Growth

You only have to look at companies like Lulu Lemon to see the advantages of the buy local movement. These companies were once small businesses, used by the locals of the Lower Mainland. They are now multi-million dollar companies.

Even Starbucks used to be a local coffee shop in Seattle at one time.

But you must also consider the impacts of this rapid growth. These companies are no longer see as a local business, and their rapid growth has changed their originating core mission and values, and therfore their target market.

So like all marketing campaigns, take a moment. Analyze the position of your business and what your end goal is. Re-evaluate your target market and its potential growth. Understand what impact an increase in sales will have to the delivery of your product or service and if a change in that process will impact the appeal of your business to your current market.

By understanding your market, and it’s potential, you can make educated decisions about the direction of your business.