Insight: half of UK shoppers buy local to support small producers
A new survey has found that 55% of UK consumers buy local brands as a means of supporting small producers and those in their local area.
Other reasons given for making local purchases included better quality, products tasting better, and helping the environment due to products not being transported over long distances.
The European Shopper Insights Survey, which polled more than 3,300 consumers from seven European countries including 500 in the UK, also found that consumers who did not buy local cited price, availability of products and limited assortment as the reasons for their choice. In addition, some 27% of respondents said they worried that the brands were ‘unknown’.
It also found that older shoppers were more likely to show a preference for buying local while people aged 18-24 were more inclined to buy international brands as they perceived them to be more innovative and affordable. Over 50% of shoppers in this younger age group said they preferred to focus their spending on big brands, with the exception of fresh food.
Foods that UK shoppers said they were more likely to buy local included milk, eggs, yogurt and cheeses. Some 23% of those polled said they preferred to buy local/national fresh food brands but in other European countries the percentage was much higher at 29%.
Olly Abotorabi, senior regional insights manager at IRI, said: “Consumers are increasingly aware of the fact that food grown closer to home means fewer carbon emissions, will be fresher and supports the local economy, and as a result we’re seeing local and national brands starting to win consumers’ hearts and minds.
“In the UK in particular we have a vibrant and innovative ‘local scene’ where challenger brands are emerging as winners, driven by huge amounts of creativity and a desire for authenticity and provenance. Increased uptake of free-from and vegan products and movements like plastic-free and zero food miles are often well embodied by smaller, challenger players.”
Abotorabi said there is an opportunity for both food manufacturers and retailers to capitalise on growing demand for local brands, but he warned they must "get the balance right" to ensure it is a driver for growth.
He added: “Retailers and the food producers themselves need to work together to ensure they can convert those who are interested but not yet ‘buying local’ by ensuring the price is right and that shoppers can find the products on shelves before they walk out of the store.
“It’s clear that big brands resonate more strongly with younger, more globally connected shoppers, so there is an opportunity to nurture and develop these connections. However the positive attributes tied to buying local means an increasing number of manufacturers and retailers must not lose sight of the long-term potential to ‘play small and win big’.”
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