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‘Shop Local’ How Supporting Your Local Community is Changing the Industry

13 September 2020

We know, for many business owners, 2020 has been a very difficult year, but we are starting to emerge from the lockdown period, and look towards the future. This pandemic has been a catalyst for massive change in the food and hospitality industry, challenging everyone to adapt to a new consumer etiquette in a little under six months. Some might say it has fast-tracked the long overdue, and in this brave new world, more than ever, we will support local producers and celebrate local craft.

With international and interstate travel restricted, there has never been a better time for everyone from restaurateurs, hotel owners and operators, to we, as designers and strategists, to explore our own regions and to further engage with our local communities. A change from a globalised consumption behaviour to sustainability-driven purchasing is what we’re seeing moving forward.

There are many reasons why we are deciding to spend locally:

Supporting local businesses (farmers, producers, hotels, etc), will have a positive impact on the local and national economy; stabilise taxes, keep money inside the country and create local jobs.

Caring about the environment, promoting energy conservation, using less packaging, choosing organic products and shopping and eating seasonally will all contribute to preserving genetic diversity.

Knowing your neighbours, helping sustain the future of local business and creating unique and valuable human connections will ensure a more ethical consumption and strengthen our communities.

Local food is more nutritious as well as more delicious! Fewer preservatives and reduced travel time leaves fresh produce tasting better, and in turn, supports fair-trade companies.

Personalised experiences are also becoming paramount. As consumers, we are increasingly appreciative of local products which are unique and can be tailored to our needs and ideals. Hotels and other hospitality businesses are using data to deliver more personalised experiences to their guests. In addition, consumers are expecting more local knowledge from staff, including local recommendations for travel or other information that supports the customer in exploring and experiencing the local community.

Boost local economies; Grow communities

Many local councils and businesses are actively encouraging this local behaviour through different initiatives in order to boost local economies, and grow local communities.

Markets and festivals have the added bonus of attracting consumers who want to purchase locally together with the local producers, farmers, artists and artisans, craftsmen and chefs; growing and strengthening ties within a local community. Sustainability will also continue to be important as guests request transparency across ingredients, sourcing and production.

If there’s a positive outcome to what has happened during 2020, it’s the shared sense of purpose and solidarity that is starting to galvanise our industry.

As Chris Lucas, restaurateur and owner of Lucas Restaurants says “Restaurants aren’t just businesses, they’re the glue that binds our communities and brings life to our cities – and we need that now more than ever”.

2021 will likely bring new challenges and opportunities for those in the hospitality industry. Anticipating some of the key expectations is a great way to review your business strategy and prepare for changes in customer preferences, paving a new path for the future.

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