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Buying local will be a way consumers can protect themselves financially, environmentally and psychologically, and feel that they are giving back. With so much global uncertainty (eg surrounding the economy, sustainability, supply chains and conflict), there will be a greater movement to protect local resources and boost local business. This is a hangover from the pandemic, but also a reflection of consumers’ changing attitudes towards what’s important to them—a reconnection with ‘local’ is also a way for consumers to protect themselves financially, environmentally and psychologically, and feel that they are giving back in some way. ‘Local’ has traditionally meant one of two things: domestic brands highlighting their locally-sourced ingredients, such as French butter made with milk from Normandy, and global brands trying to appeal to local tastes, such as fast-food made with local recipes. But brands have moved beyond this simplistic reading of what it means to be ‘local’. While taking inspiration from local favorites is still popular, brands are increasingly linking localism with sustainability and transparency. Many consumers associate local products with more sustainable practices, leading to retailers cultivating that connection by playing up the shorter distances their local produce has to travel. Alongside that, brands are being more transparent about where and how their products are made by letting consumers look behind the scenes via livestreams, social media posts and QR codes. ‘Local’ increasingly means ‘beneficial to the local community’. This is why dark stores—delivery-only stores located in residential areas—have sparked controversy in many cities. While they offer the convenience of super-fast delivery, they may also cause a nuisance to residents. Over the next two years, consumers will continue to grow more bonded to the local environment as the world faces rising geopolitical and financial insecurity. Many will continue to support local economies and communities and seek ways to connect locally—deepening the spirit of shared identity. Consumers will respond instinctively to home-grown innovators and brands that stamp their authenticity on the items they produce and sell. With this in mind, both international and local brands could benefit from collaborating with local artists or coming up with schemes to support the specific needs and behaviors of local communities. To do this authentically, brands will need to let local communities and creators not only participate in, but also take charge of projects. Additionally, protecting local businesses and products will no longer be limited to those located geographically nearby and could likely evolve into a global sense of international localism. ‘Localism’ will come to mean supporting communities where the product is manufactured rather than where the consumer is located. Indeed, empowering communities across the world will play a significant role in consumers’ interest and brand loyalty. Global brands can capitalize on this by highlighting how their local stores, employees or profits are being used to better each of the communities in which they are present. Brands will re-evaluate their supply chains and reliance on other countries. For instance, the conflict in Ukraine has highlighted the vulnerabilities of supply chains and potential disruptions to global food security. In the longer term, this will lead brands to explore strategic shifts towards the use of domestic raw materials, if available, or at least to a more diversified sourcing structure—and not just in the food and drink category. Global supply chains will not go away, though. As the impact of global warming will increasingly be felt, more consumers will be scrutinizing whether global brands take their local commitments seriously. For example, eco-conscious consumers will demand the traceability of raw materials and more transparency around how brands are conserving local resources, especially in the developing world. Consumers will want proof of a brand’s ethical credentials, which could go beyond environment friendly positioning and include corporate practices too.

International Localism

KEY TRENDS

Growing consumption