Identifying If “Buy Local” Campaigns Really Work

A 2013 report from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance surveyed 2,377 independent, locally owned businesses across all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Combined, these businesses employ 37,032 people and most have five or fewer employees – with only 5% having over 50 employees. Of these small businesses, over half were retailers. Among the many questions they asked them, the ILSR wanted to identify just how “buy local” campaigns impact small business owners.

The independent businesses surveyed were asked, among many things, what the impact of “buy local”and similar initiatives have on their businesses. 75% of those businesses with local campaigns said that having the initiative positively impacted their business, while 42% describe that impact as moderate or significant. Only 15% said it had no impact on their business.

In addition to the general feeling indie business owners had on these types of initiatives, here are a few other details that were collected:

• 44 percent said it had brought new customers to their businesses
• 48 percent said the campaign had improved the loyalty of their existing customers
• 64 percent said it had increased local media coverage of independent businesses
• 49 percent said it had made city officials more aware and supportive of independent
• 44 percent said it had led to more collaboration, purchasing, and mutual support
among local businesses

With public awareness being a large factor to the success or failure of these campaigns, more and more communities are leaning on “buy local” campaigns to encourage their local consumers to shop small and shop local. Among them? Omaha, who shares the message “Boost Our Local Economy and Area Businesses” during their promotional outreach for their buy local campaign.

With countless campaigns to choose from and of course, time committed to getting them in alive and running, we’re curious what you think. Let us know what your community has participated in and whether or not it’s from a state, city or regional scale.  Plus, we want to know what you WANT from these campaigns as a retailer (besides more foot traffic and sales, of course). Please comment below, as well as reach out to

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