Shopping local, shopping global: The differences between global and local consumer culture

Where you spend your money is just as important as what you spend it on.

Each organization, whether a corporation or small business, varies in the products or services they provide, what they support, the value they bring to a community and where they decide to spend the money they receive from consumers.

Where an individual spends their money is also significant because of consumer culture theory. According to the Journal of International Marketing, consumer culture is the idea that there is a social relationship between consumers and the material goods they purchase because there is a culture behind every market a consumer buys from.

Furthermore, the local market culture differs from the global e-commerce market culture.

Shopping local means more than just shopping in one specific area. Forbes clarifies that shopping local includes purchasing products from locally-owned small businesses. For example, shopping at a Home Depot in your local area is considered shopping locally, but to shop at a locally-owned coffee shop is to shop local.

On the other hand, shopping global refers to global e-commerce, otherwise known as online shopping. Consumers that shop global shop from businesses located in entirely different parts of the world because their products are found on e-commerce company sites like Amazon.

As a result, the consumer culture associated with global shopping is fast-paced and borderless. One of the benefits of shopping global is the flexibility and convenience of having access to a vast array of products and services.

According to Statista, 45 per cent of those that shop on e-commerce channels like that they can shop from anywhere and 34 per cent enjoy that they can find just about any product they are looking for.

Locally-owned small businesses do not reflect the high-speed and wide-range culture of global e-commerce, so there is a significant decrease in product supply and variety.

On the flip side, an advantage of locally-owned businesses is that their products are usually better quality. Locally-owned businesses often use sustainable materials from other local manufacturers and farmers.

Their slower-paced design also allows them to connect with the consumers and community. According to a study by the Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, small businesses are perceived as closely connected to the area they operate in. This is because they become familiar spaces that contribute to the local economy by employing locals and funding community events.

Although e-commerce companies cannot to have a physical connection with consumers and communities, consumers can connect with each other by commenting and leaving reviews on products. Twenty-five per cent of e-commerce consumers highly value product reviews since they cannot get that feedback from small businesses.

Additionally, consumers widely trust e-commerce companies. They are seen as dependable since consumers know that many people purchase products through e-commerce sites every day.

Lastly, the revenue that a business generates from sales goes to different places.

Locally-owned small businesses spend a portion of their revenue on local events such as school fairs, sporting events and more. Small businesses also donate 250 per cent more to charities and non-profits.

On the other hand, corporations that partake in global e-commerce spend most of their revenue on business expenses, supplies and advertising.

Ultimately, it is important that consumers know more about the consequences and outcomes of where they shop. Shopping global is more flexible, fast-paced and has a generous and diverse array of products. Meanwhile, shopping local is more community-oriented, environmentally friendly and philanthropic.

Consumers deserve to be able to use their autonomy as they shop and choose whichever style best fits their needs.

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