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‘Buy local’ message requiring promotion push, says Mintel

By Neil Merrett , 20-Mar-2009

One in every six US consumers surveyed by analyst group Mintel are going out of their way to buy local food products as much as possible, with potential for further growth, according to recent findings.

However, the research company said stronger promotion activities may be required to play up potential benefits to the consumer of sourcing local goods in order to ensure more mainstream acceptance of the segment.

In a survey carried out by the group on attitudes to locally made consumer products, Mintel said potential was particularly strong in younger consumers.

About 30 per cent of the 2000 adult respondents questioned said they would purchase local goods and services, but were unable to locate them, earning themselves the titles of ‘aspirational locals’ by the analyst.

By comparison, just one in six consumers surveyed were found to actively go out of their way to seek local services and products as much as possible. Of the same consumer group, 27 per cent said they had no preference whether food or other sources were local or not, according to the survey.

Mintel’s Krista Faron said that amongst US consumers, the tag of local foods has become increasingly desirable as both a cost saving and seemingly more ethical option, though greater promotional activities may be required by the industry.

Marketing message

"We found that over half of local shoppers are trying to help their local economy, but they also buy local products for convenience, better taste and the environment,” she stated. “Companies should use these motivations to craft marketing messages that appeal to locally conscious consumers."

Of the products that most captured consumer imagination, fruits and vegetables were bought by 31 per cent of respondents specifically from local sources at least once a week, stated the survey.

The analyst said that there was similar interest in locally sourced baked goods, dairy products and meats, which were bought by one in four shoppers on a weekly basis.

Faron suggested that the ‘buy local’ concept may still be some way from mainstream appeal in the current market.

We found that although the 'buy local' mantra has gotten strong media coverage and government support, most Americans haven't yet incorporated it into their lifestyles," she stated. "Nonetheless, local products offer unique benefits and are more accessible than ever before, so we think the local movement has relevance with today's consumer."

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