Buying Local SA
Buying South African products is a much-talked-about subject. “Local is Lekker”, “Think global, Act Local” are all phrases coined by those who encourage local purchases. While international products are sometimes called for, and sometimes the benefits of buying internationally outweigh any local advantages- there are strong advantages for a consumer when making the decision to spend hard-earned cash locally.
Products designed for the local market
International products, in their very nature, have to be international which means they need to be more generic and suit a larger spectrum of situations and customers. To keep costs down, international suppliers need to provide largely homogenous products, with minimal customization to local markets, in order to keep costs down and profits meaningfully. Local suppliers do not face this challenge and customers are more likely to receive a product that is specifically aimed at the South African market. South African products tend to be tailored to meet the uniquely South African challenges that are faced in the local economic sectors- in a way that international products simply cannot do economically.
Product Support is local
A local product means that the product support is local. When implementing or seeking help with faulty products, having people on the ground with knowledge means that on-site assistance is possible. Not only that but the support is experienced in dealing with South African challenges. Many of us have had the experience of calling through to a helpline, only to speak to someone in the middle of Manila or Bangladesh, who has no idea what it is like to operate in a South African context. Local products also help with making manufacturers and vendors more accountable. They are not just an email address, website, or telephone number – but are bricks and mortar, in your area, with real people to speak to in person. They are also much more subject to consumer protection laws that can struggle to apply to firms offshore.
Buying local supports the South African economy which in turn supports you
Why Buy Local? This question is best answered by Michael H. Shuman, author of the book Going Local. “Going local does not mean walling off the outside world. It means nurturing locally owned businesses that use local resources sustainably, employ local workers at decent wages and serve primarily local consumers. It means becoming more self-sufficient and less dependent on imports. Control moves from the boardrooms of distant corporations and back into the community where it belongs.” (Shuman 2000).
There is no denying it. When consumers spend their money on local products, money and wealth stays in the community and South Africa as a whole. Wages are paid with that money, local suppliers are paid with that money, the profits are put to use locally- all contributing to an economy that will come full circle, and ultimately have more cash to spend on your product or business. When one chooses to buy internationally- the employees who are paid are not South African, the supplier businesses are not South African and the economy is not enriched in the same way.
Develops a market with more consumer choice
A local economy that is full of small businesses, all working hard to innovate and provide superior customer service is good news for the South African consumer. It ensures that the marketplace is robust, that innovation is constantly occurring, and that South Africans have a proper choice when it comes to their purchase decisions. In the long term, this healthy competition leads to lower prices and breeds a culture of entrepreneurship that boosts the economy overall. This vibrant marketplace can only be achieved, however, when South African consumers and South African businesses choose to support local firms and products. Without South Africans choosing to spend their cash locally, local businesses and economies cannot develop or thrive- and local consumers will have increasingly less and less choice and power when it comes to the products available to them.
A resilient economy
When an economy imports more goods and services than it exports- that means more money is leaving the country than entering it. This is known as a trade deficit or negative trade balance. When South Africa is in a trade deficit, not only is this bad news for the country’s finances as a whole, but it also makes the economy much more vulnerable to external and global economic shocks and changes, such as US dollar exchange rates and price of oil. An economy that fosters diverse and competitive local businesses and a culture of buying and supporting local suppliers and products is much more resilient against international events and pressures. Buying local South African goods and services is an integral part of developing a strong and stable local economy.
Buying local South African products has many benefits, some short term, and some long term. What is important is that a thriving local economy is good for all, and it can only develop when it is supported by the local communities.