Buy local

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Research shows that more than 50% of Kiwis will change how they shop after lockdown with these new preferences expected to last for years to come.

A survey of more than 500 respondents conducted by business consultancy firm Rutherford, has found that New Zealanders are now more than ever, wanting to buy local and support local businesses - that is, if the price is right. However, buying from a New Zealand-owned business has also become an important factor when it comes to making a purchase, particularly for hospitality businesses.

The research asked respondents to rate the importance of different factors that influence their choices when banking, shopping online for clothes, at restaurants, cafes and supermarkets. In all of those categories, being a New Zealand business or the product being NZ-grown or made, was found to have become more important for consumers after the Covid-19 regulations loosened compared to what they were before the pandemic. Businesses that were doing a better job socially and environmentally were also seen in a better light.

Graham Ritchie, chief executive of Rutherford, said the findings suggested Kiwis would be more inclined to shop locally and support local businesses long-term to help to reboot the economy.

"Half of New Zealanders are making a deliberate choice to shop local coming out of the lockdown ... and 70% of those people are expected to make those changes for years, or permanently, and that's significant," Ritchie told the Herald.

"If you think back to the Global Financial Crisis and behavioural changes that came out, people made those decisions for two, three, four years but people here think they are going to last a lot longer."

Between January - April 2020, there has been an average of 176 conversations per day on social media about local and ethical businesses. This volume is increasing by about one additional conversation per day, the research found.

"It's almost like that 'Be kind' ethos fostered by the pandemic ... has opened people's consideration set to the value and importance of those things as they have had a chance in lockdown to sit down and reconsider. This could be linked to the border lockdown which means that people will be spending more time within New Zealand and local businesses won't be able to do as much trade outside of the country," Ritchie said.

Despite the rise in importance of buying local, price remains the number one factor when considering a purchase. Price and quality remain the key drivers of online shopping and clothing purchases.

Supermarkets are likely to see a rise in New Zealand-made and organic products and local cafes and restaurants are likely to see a large boost in support.

The research suggests that businesses that want to speed their recovery following lockdown might want to consider marketing based on their affiliation with local communities — or at least position themselves as a "Kiwi" business.

Ref: NZ Herald article 5 June 2020

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