Consumers go local and buy from the bush

The trend of Proudly Local, Going Global features in the 2020 list of top ten global trends by Euromonitor, little did we know that this trend was about to take off, accelerated by the lockdown imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

A “Shop Local” sign outside The Denim Bar

This trend draws on a sense of individuality and identity that comes from local inspiration. The Euromonitor report cites a 2019 survey where more than 50% of consumers believed that products and brands are more authentic when they are local.

This trend converges with the levelling of globalisation whereby people move away from buying from large multinationals back to grassroots producers. In 2019 the Economist published a review of a book by Michael O’Sullivan called ‘The Levelling’. In this review, globalisation as we know it is said to have died and to be replaced by three to four regions that reflect distinct cultural, economic and security behaviours. However it is unlikely that we will see the end of global connections and networks.

With the pandemic of 2020, supply chains were interrupted as international borders closed and working habits were altered with many moving into the spare bedroom or the living room to run their business or earn their income. There was an acute realisation about the fragility of our global network and a need to shore up local supply chains and a change in the products and services needed for our daily work-life. These changes motivated a range of new products and services. We saw rum distilleries adapt their product offerings and start selling hand sanitiser, dine in restaurants suddenly offered drive-through meals and theatre staging items made into DIY home office furniture.

Koala rescued from an Australian wildfire
A homemade wooden sign reads: “Firefighters are awesome.” 

The bushfires in Australia at the end of 2019/start of 2020 sparked interest in buying products from locals in regional areas to help them recover. Websites such as encouraged people to buy coffees from a café for firefighters in a fire-affected town or buy from local businesses. This initiative gained momentum in COVID-19 when consumers faced difficulties purchasing gift and home items due to supply chain limitations. Buy From The Bush started as a Facebook page where people living in regional Australia could advertise hand-made items such as jewellery, toys, bags and accumulated 450,000 followers (Homestolove 2020). This grew during COVID with many consumers motivated to have access to items they could receive without waiting for lengthy timeframes and also help locals. In November 2020, PayPal sponsored the marketplace just in time for Christmas to connect buyers and sellers across Australia and provide an ecommerce platform.

The benefits of sourcing local products range from helping the environment (reducing carbon miles) to enabling society (employment for locals and use of local supply chains) to wellbeing (pride and achievement, identity, income).

So this Christmas,  if you are interested in buying from regional Australian businesses (many of who are women) check out the unique products such as rocky road Christmas wreaths, jewellery made from sea glass, lavender lip balm or citrus perfume oil at the Buy from the Bush marketplace.


Written by Prof Rebekah Russell-Bennett.

To learn more about Rebekah and her research, please visit her BEST profile here: