Big brands and wholesalers must ‘think community’

New research by YouGov confirms that big brands and wholesalers can boost sales by supporting and encouraging retailers to re-double their involvement with the local community. The connection between the community and the local independent outstrips any similar links with the giant multiples, says YouGov.

This conclusion will be put before the next strategy meeting of My Shop Is Your Shop (MSYS) campaigners, following analysis of the research which confirms ‘community’ as the biggest single plus factor for independent retailers. The FWD PR Action Group (PRAG) meets at the end of June to refresh the campaign with new ideas.

YouGov, the leading consumer research consultancy commissioned by MSYS to measure shopper attitudes ahead of National Independents’ Week (NIW), busts the myth that contemporary society is not community minded.

More than one in two shoppers believe that community generally is as important or more important than ever before. And, importantly, 87% of consumers believe local independent shops are important in maintaining a good local community.

The local shop, together with the pub and the church, are the three leading places where people believe personal relationships in their community are nurtured.

New research undertaken among independent retailers by ProWholesaler’s sister magazine Convenience Store also puts community at the heart of retailers’ thinking.

Both research exercises put independent retailers far ahead of the multiples in making a contribution to community matters.

Significantly, over 60% of shoppers did not believe that the multiples play an active part in the development of local communities.

Nearly 500 independents responded to a MSYS questionnaire in Convenience Store and a massive 91% said their shop was in an area with a strong sense of community.

Asked if they thought that a sense of community was important in today’s world, 87% said it was and more than half of these said it was more important than it has ever been. What’s more, 83% of retailers say that given the chance their customers would take a more active role in the community because there was a pride about where they live.

Alan Toft, MSYS campaign chairman, said: “This is the most remarkable guidance our industry has ever had on the value of the interface between the sole trader and family business – every wholesalers’ customers.

“On this evidence, footfall can be increased if we get supplier supporters, wholesalers and retailers to apply more marketing focus on community.”

Toft said there was only one conclusion which could be reached and proved on firm ground – that independents could claim community and all its means as their own unique trading platform.

“What comes out of this is that independents can put clear blue water between themselves and the multiples. As successful and as professional as the multiples are, the shopper does not relate to them in a community context,” he said.

“Independents are at ease with their community in a way in which the multiple manager cannot be. This research shows us this is because the shopper does not think they are a natural part of the community like the retailer who lives over the shop.”

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=== Retailer research key points ===

l 91% of independent retailers believe their shop is in an area with a strong sense of community.

l 87% say the community is important.

l 98% say that their shop is important to the local community – 63% say it is very important.

l 93% say their involvement in the neighbourhood is helping to maintain a good business.

l 85% said the giant multiples were unable to play an important grass roots active role in the community.

l Lack of activities for the young (30%), street crime (22%), poor local services (19%) and social deprivation (13%) were the scores for issues which damaged local neighbourhoods.

l The local store, the pub and the local church, in that order, were the places where retailers said personal relationships were mostly nurtured.

l 83% of retailers said that given the chance their customers would like to play a more active part in their community.

Source: Convenience Store

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=== YouGov research key points ===

l 87% of shoppers believe local independent shops are important in maintaining a good local community.

l Half of consumers believe they live in an area with a strong sense of community.

l One in two believe community in general is as important or more important than ever before.

l 65% of consumers would like to take a more active in their community.

l 52% of consumers believe their community stretches no more than two miles from their front door.

l 60% of shoppers do not believe that national multiple retailers can play an active role in community.

l 57% believe that communities are under threat from a lack of activities for the young.

l Most people believe a good community gives people safe streets, effective policing, good facilities for the young, and people looking out for each other in a strong neighbour-aware context.

Source: YouGov

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