Want to grow your area's economy and independent businesses? Implement a "buy local" campaign.
We've probably all lived in or visited places with strong "buy local" campaigns. If you have a curious mind, like me, you might have wondered how much of a difference such campaigns have. Do the really work? For the fourth consecutive year, a national study on this matter has found that they sure do.
Independent businesses in areas with "buy local" campaigns have much greater revenue growth than independent businesses in areas without such campaigns. The former saw an average revenue growth of 5.6% in 2010 and the latter only saw an average revenue growth of 2.1%. This follows the trend found in three previous studies.
I have to wonder if these communities with "buy local" campaigns also had other policies in place that might have helped local businesses out as well. It seems like a possibility, but wasn't controlled for in this study. As a college professor would say, there is a need for more studies of this nature that delve into the topic in more depth. Nonetheless, the findings so far are promising.
How Do "Buy Local" Campaigns Help Independent Businesses?
Of course, they encourage people to buy local, right? But let's get into the details.. as perceived by the independent business owners surveyed.
"Almost half [of business owners in cities with active 'buy local' campaigns] reported that the campaign had brought new customers to their business and 55% said it had made existing customers more loyal," Stacy Mitchell of the New Rules Project reports. "More than two-thirds said local media coverage of independent businesses had increased and 51% said that local government officials were now more aware and supportive of the needs of independent businesses."
Overall, almost two-thirds of the survey respondents believed that "public awareness of the benefits of supporting locally owned businesses had increased in the last year."
In other words, the perceptions are in line with the revenue growth patterns: the campaigns are working.
"This survey offers further proof that, with sustained efforts, communities can indeed raise local consciousness and build a culture of support for local entrepreneurs," Jennifer Rockne, executive director of the American Independent Business Alliance, noted. "Remarkably, most of the campaigns operated by Independent Business Alliances are funded by businesses paying $20 or less per month in dues. They're getting quite a return on their investment."
Data for this study, conducted by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, was collected from 2,768 independent businesses over the course of eight days in January.
There are currently "buy local" campaigns in approximately 140 cities nationwide. Does your city have one?
Photo Credit: stevegarfield via flickr/CC license