The concept of purchasing goods and services from the vendor around the block has a quaint, nostalgic appeal, but new research from Mintel shows that “buying local” still has many fans to earn in America.
According to Mintel’s exclusive consumer survey on local shopping, just one in six adults (17%) buy local products and services as often as possible. These “True Locals” are willing to pay a higher price and they’ll even buy local if competitive products are better.
But the overwhelming majority of American shoppers don’t feel so strongly. Mintel identified 30% of survey respondents as “Aspirational Locals;” they say they would purchase local goods and services but don’t know where to find them. And over a quarter of adults (27%) are “No Locals,” not caring where their food and services come from.
“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,” states Krista Faron, senior analyst at Mintel. “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. “
Mintel’s survey found that people who purchase local goods most frequently purchase food. Local fruits and vegetables are by far the most common: three in ten adults (31%) say they purchase them once a week or more. Approximately one in four shoppers buy local baked goods, meats or cheese/dairy products once a week or more, reports Mintel.
Mintel’s Global New Products Database (GNPD) tracked several new local food and drink launches in the US last year. One was Natural Directions Organic Flour, milled at a small mill in Utah. Blue Chair Fruit Company launched Meyer Lemon Marmalade with Mandarins & Lavender, claiming to use local, sustainable ingredients and support local farms. Even alcoholic beverages caught on: Peak Organic Brewing Company’s Maple Oat Ale is brewed from Maine-grown organic oats and Vermont-produced organic maple syrup.
“Local is becoming a desirable product claim, as people try to save money, support their communities and preserve the environment,” comments Krista Faron. “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. Companies should use these motivations to craft marketing messages that appeal to locally conscious consumers.”
Mintel views 25-34 year olds and families with children as the most zealous local shoppers.

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