• MIT undergrad Cydnie Trice is developing a marketing plan for the Hawai’i Alliance for a Local Economy this summer.
For the past couple weeks, I’ve been surveying at local grocery stores and farmers markets around the island. We designed a survey for consumers aimed at understanding what factors influence the residents’ decisions to shop at a particular store or retailer. We also inquired about their ideas of what it means to buy local, if/why that’s important, and what circumstances would help to increase the likelihood of them shopping locally more often.
Post author Cydnie Trice surveying at a local grocery Store.
In general the responses showed that price was the leading factor in store selection. We also found that the quality of the products played an important role for the residents. Many of those surveyed felt a personal obligation to support local businesses, farmers, and the community by buying from local businesses.
Chart 1: ‘Choosing Where to Shop’ Average Responses
While the results of the survey are somewhat in line with our assumptions, we were still surprised to see that the Friendliness of the Staff and Coupons were not among the tops ranks.
Chart 2: ‘Buying Local’ Analysis
Results showed that a decent number of consumers were willing to pay a little bit of a price premium in order to support their neighbors. Our hope is that this spirit will spread to a larger section of the island’s population through our consumer education initiatives.
Another important aspect of preparing to market a campaign like this one is understanding how people receive communications. Knowing what sources the residents’ trust and how news spreads around the island is crucial to the development of the Think Local First campaign. We found that the majority of those we surveyed so far depend on newspapers and word of mouth to receive information (see chart 3). For an island that is heavily focused on the community, these results are not surprising.
Chart 3: Communication Venue Analysis
When asked what they thought the term ‘buy local’ meant, the consensus was that it was related to goods made, grown, produced on the island (or in the state). With this we have a much better idea of what education is needed and also how to focus our campaign to have the most impact. The next steps in this campaign are to bring local businesses on board and create the messages/images to help inform and educate the community.
Post by Cydnie Trice. This project is supported by the MIT Public Service Center.