Why you should do business for the community

by Jason Zanatta

JasonSBofT

Have you ever noticed when talking about celebrities someone is always quick to mention who among them is Canadian? We have a sense of pride and feeling of ownership in regards to our fellow Canucks, even if we have never met them. Business is similar. Consumers are proud to buy locally made products and love to share why this benefits the community as well as the environment.

Buying cheaper imported products is less desirable and choosing to support domestic manufacturing is a trend that’s sticking. Shoppers look for that “Made in Canada” label; they want an emotional experience. By spending a bit more on a home-grown label, consumers know it benefits someone “close” with whom they share a community, a shared history, and shared values. Farmers’ markets are increasingly popular and bring back the most primitive sense of community – sharing food. Vancouver Farmers Markets are celebrated all over the city on a weekly basis. They are a great example of how businesses (no matter their size) offer fresh local ingredients while nurturing a sense of kinship among us.

How can larger businesses, either online or traditional brick and mortar stores, trigger that same sense of local loyalty? Some shoppers are skeptics when it comes to “local” and “green” labels thanks to companies issuing false claims. It’s a legitimate worry  (read my blog post about greenwashing) and, as a business, you must highlight your engagement with governmental standards and accreditation.

With all the savvy consumers out there, how can businesses stand out? Especially in Greater Vancouver, where each of the 22 municipalities are uniquely different and based on varying ethnic diversities and socio-economic factors? Simple: Bring the focus of the business back to its community. Vancity recently took home BCAMA 2013 Marketer of the Year for their branding campaign that profiled members and employees from the Lower Mainland. The credit union channeled the feeling of pride and ownership directly to their customers.

Awards, events and peer-to-peer publications (such as ShareGreen, Walmart’s green business blog that recently featured our GeoBlend® fill) are just a few of the ways that businesses are able to gain credibility and notoriety for community oriented business practices and legitimate eco-friendly product development.

At Novo Textiles, we’re proud our GeoBlend® fill combines both an environmental and “Made in Canada” story: it’s made with clean, top-quality off cuts from home textiles in North America and diverts waste otherwise sent to landfills. We are humbled that our efforts have been recognized with the honour of Surrey Board and Trade’s Environment and Business Award for 2013. SBofT focuses on supporting local community businesses by creating a network of likeminded business people looking to share and learn from each other. Their events, such as the luncheon I attended yesterday, bring business people together to foster a strong community and celebrate achievement.

Next, we’ll donate pet beds, filled with our eco-friendly GeoBlend®, to a new rescue shelter in Surrey that will home to many dogs. Not only will we benefit from engaging our consumers directly with our product, but we’ll foster a relationship with the communities in which we serve.

©Novo Textiles co 2014