Our Home and Native Brand?
Canadians can certainly be said to have a strong sense of national identity. Even when reduced to the broadest and simplest stereotypes (hockey, cold tolerance, exceptional politeness) it’s possible to create a well-defined image of our nation that we often celebrate, poke fun at, or otherwise attach to culturally. There are certainly also businesses and corporations whose “Canadian-ness” is unshakeably established, be it through history, coincidence, or carefully crafted brand strategy.
For the modern small business, does embracing or promoting the “made in Canada” aspects of your identity make sense in a bid to attract new customers or create loyalty?
In an era that has seen the rise of farm-to-table diets and the “buy local” movement, displaying the badge of national authenticity could be a savvy promotional strategy. Social consciousness appears to be a major force influencing consumer decisions: a 2013 survey by the Business Development Bank of Canada showed that 55 percent of respondents said that buying from local stores was a key selection factor. Local focus could make a significant difference to businesses in the food and beverage industry: 82 percent of respondents in an Ipsos survey on food purchasing patterns indicated that they would make an effort to buy locally produced goods.
For manufacturing businesses, the debate about Canadian identity reaches deeper than brand image. The decision to offer goods designed and made in Canada can often hinge on important questions of labour cost and technological flexibility. It can also be said that consumer consciousness plays a certain role, however: many consumers are more conscious about the socio-economic conditions under which products are made around the world.
Ultimately, consumers are likely to be swayed by the availability and price of goods and services. However, the individuality and homegrown quality of many small businesses should not be overlooked. Supporting local and small businesses has a measurable effect on community economies due to the relationships between retailers, suppliers and service providers. As BDC has noted in a separate 2013 report:
… a locally owned business can directly recirculate up to one third of its revenues in the community; a comparable multinational directly recirculated less than 20%, on average.
Similarly, the indirect redistribution of revenues can be as much as 2.6 times higher for local businesses than chain establishments,71 because local companies are more likely to use local suppliers, such as accountants, information technology companies and banks.
What can your small business do to make the most of this valuable network of local relationships between businesses and consumers? In this context, promoting the independent and Canadian-owned aspects of your identity may be significantly beneficial in the long run.