How to Market to the “Shop Local” Consumer

In recent years, there has been a growing movement to shop local. It has become “cool” to support small and local businesses instead of retail giants like Amazon or Walmart. For small companies, the shop local trend is great news.

There are more farmer’s markets, local bakeries, boutiques, and breweries popping up all around the U.S. each year. Just six years ago, Small Business Saturday didn’t exist. It wasn’t until 2010 that American Express trademarked they holiday. Last year, over 95 million people went out to support local shops. More people are interested in buying local and realize how small businesses benefit the local economy.

Many of our customers at 10twelve have been interested in how to reach these “shop local consumers”. As business owners ourselves, we’ve also been curious about how to tap into the local market. These are the methods and tips that businesses can use to improve their marketing to local shoppers:

1. Know your “shop local” consumers.

What types of consumers shop locally? One of the most influential components of any successful marketing strategy is audience analysis. Your audience influences almost every other aspect and decision that you will make in your marketing strategy. Take the time to learn more about them.

Many Baby Boomers and older generations are already fans of small business shopping because of a preference and nostalgia for brick-and-mortar store experiences. But, according to many reports, Millennials are leading the growth of shop local. Over 40 percent of Millennials─ages 18 to 34─prefer to buy goods and services from local businesses over big chain retailers, even if that means a slightly higher price tag. With Millennials surpassing the Baby Boomer population at 75.4 million, there’s a huge opportunity that small firms can’t afford to ignore.

2. Focus on values.

It is vital to know who your customers are. Yet, there is another, more important question about your buyers that you need to ask: Why do they shop at your store and other local businesses?

Famous author and TED Talk speaker, Simon Sinek studied inspirational leaders and companies to discover what makes their followers so loyal. His findings: “People don’t buy what you do. They buy why you do it.” People love brands that align with their own beliefs. Oftentimes, these are aspirational brands that connect with shoppers’ interests and desires.

When creating marketing campaigns and materials remember to ask why. You can start by asking: What do shop local consumers value? When you incorporate values and beliefs into your business, your physical products are tied to an emotional feeling, which is considered more valuable to customers.

For example, the widely popular LUSH cosmetics brand has close to 300 million in annual revenue. It ties its beauty products to all-natural lifestyles and supports causes like preventing animal cruelty. Because of those values, they have some of the most loyal customers .

3. Be easy to find.

The good news is that shop local consumers want to support your business. The desire is already there, so you don’t need to convince them. But, you do need to make it easy for them to find you. Today, that means connecting your brick-and-mortar store to your digital presence. According to a study by Google, 4 in 5 people use online search to get local information. When that online information is helpful, 3 out of 4 are more likely to visit a store.

Ensure that shoppers can find you in search results by setting up local listings.

If you haven’t done so already, add your business to Google My Business. When you list your business, your information will show up in Google search and Maps. It’s also completely free to list your business.

When you create listings make sure that important details like contact information, phone number, email and address are easy to find. Post your store hours and keep your website and social profiles updated with holiday and seasonal hours.

4. Embrace digital.

Online matters as much as your offline presence. Yet, 62% of consumers believe that small businesses don’t effectively maintain their digital profiles. Managing your presence effectively is critical to successful marketing. There are three components that have significant influence on your digital presence, and how shoppers see your brand:

1.     Your website (performance and mobile optimization). A faulty website, slow loading times and poor information and design will cause you to lose customers.

2.     Online reviews. Most shoppers conduct online research before making a purchase. According to Kissmetrics, 55% of consumers use online reviews to make buying decisions.

3.     Social media. Shop local consumers want to be able to engage with the businesses that they support. Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and other social platforms allow customers to do just that.

5. Be social─and visual.

Considering that Millennials are driving shop local, businesses need to be active on social channels. It is how most of the world finds and shares information and communicates with their network. Incorporate these social media tactics to strengthen your marketing strategy.

      Compelling visuals and storytelling. Visual content is key to social media engagement. Social posts with visuals are viewed 94% more and are 40 times more likely to be shared.

      Combine traditional advertising with social. Facebook, Pinterest and other social platforms have options to target ads to a specific age group and location. Targeting your social media marketing can help you reach the customers that you want at a lower cost than traditional advertising.

Look for opportunities to create shareable moments and content that will makes users want to engage with your social media pages.

6. Create unique customer experiences.

Shop local consumers are motivated by a desire to support businesses, but it’s not totally a selfless endeavor. One of the most appealing qualities of local businesses is the personal attention and customer experiences. Shoppers want customer-centric experiences and attention that they can’t get in big box, chain retailers. Shoppers, particularly Millennials, care more about the buying experience than the products, according to a report by PricewaterhouseCooper.

Focus on what makes your business unique and incorporate that into your operations and marketing. For instance, if you are a local bakery, you can hold cooking classes after hours. If you sell handmade products made by local artists, feature them by holding artist galleries or art workshops.

7. Consider proximity and location-based advertising.

As mobile device usage rises, there is a new form of location-based advertising emerging. Using an individual’s GPS and device location, businesses can target users with local ads when they are physically close to a store location. It may sound extreme to some, but one study states that 53% of consumers would share their current location data to get personalized and relevant ads. Also, 57% of shoppers are more likely to engage with location-based ads.

8. Get involved in the community.

Digital technologies have grown the shop local trend, but supporting causes and getting involved in your local community is still valuable. People admire businesses that support the local community. Host an event for a local charity and support nonprofit organizations in your community that align with your business’ values and culture. But, remember to include that involvement into your content.

Tapping into the shop local market is crucial to small business survival and success. It can be challenging to find, connect and build long-lasting relationships with local consumers when managing it all on your own. Chat with 10twelve to see how we can help you reach more local customers.