Many of us instinctively feel bad when we walk past a local business and see a product in the window that we know we just bought online for less. Sadly, some of us have got the process down to a fine art; blatantly trying on clothes or shoes in a local store to confirm size and fit before ordering the same item from an online giant for cheaper.
And, perhaps as a sign of bad karma, many of us have been burned along the way by buying a product from overseas which turned out to be a dud, with no support or way to claim a refund. The words ‘consumer guarantee’ seems like a foreign language if you do manage to get through to the complaints line (which, often, is actually the case).
However, there has been a growing push in recent years to ‘buy local’. People are increasingly turning away from globalisation and the novelty of ‘worldly’ products and shifting back to locally-made goods.
This trend isn’t just being seen in retail – the service industry is also experiencing a swing back to local. Think, for example, how many call centres you’ve rung in the past year where they proudly message the fact that operators are based locally. It’s become a badge of honour. More of us are starting to realise that local legal, marketing, digital, recruitment and finance firms offer a better level of service compared with offshore alternatives.
Why we should all support local business
Here are five great reasons why supporting local, Kiwi-owned business is good.
1. It supports local industry. This is a bit of an obvious one. Buying local goods and services puts any money straight into the community’s pocket for further distribution throughout the local economy. This helps stabilise taxes, keeps the money in our country and creates local jobs.
An American study found that for every $100 spent at a local business, $68 remained, compared with only $43 of each $100 spent with an overseas business.
2. Local businesses understand the market and the key drivers that affect you. Business is highly competitive and it’s good to have someone that has a common frame of reference and ‘gets’ what you’re saying. They are also likely to be more passionate about supporting a fellow Kiwi than someone from the other side of the world – or the ditch for that matter!
3. They are more agile and flexible. New Zealand is a nation of entrepreneurs and ‘fixers’, which is where the term ‘number 8 wire’ comes from. This is a reflection of the can-do attitude embedded in the Kiwi psyche. I know I’d rather have a local business with this attitude in my corner than someone with a different cultural viewpoint and no vested interest in my success.
Local businesses are also less constrained by international standards and agreements and are able to come up with more effective, tailor-made solutions.
4. Success breeds our success. If our locally-owned businesses succeed and become profitable, they grow and need more staff. These jobs go to us, our family members, or people we know. This, in turn, makes New Zealand a more attractive and viable place to stay and live and puts the brakes on our talent rushing off overseas.
5. You know the people behind the product or service. When you know the people in a business you’re working with personally, you enjoy a connection that would otherwise be missing. This personal investment and common pride don’t exist when you’re dealing with an offshore company.
Also, when things get wobbly – which is inevitable – you have a relationship with someone who understands your situation and who you can be sure has got your back. This also leads to more personalised, and better, customer service.
A great quote I saw the other day said: “You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy local, and that’s kind of the same.” Let’s do our bit and make sure we support local businesses!