The Power of Boutiques – It’s All About Being Local

Published: April 27, 2016

The Power of Boutiques – It’s All About Being Local

In a presentation we recently gave at the 2016 IHRSA International Convention entitled, “The Power of Boutiques: Leveraging the Power in a Traditional Club Setting”, one of the powers we highlighted was being local.

Buying local has emerged as a powerful consumer purchasing trend toward the end of the last decade when consumers began to frequent retailers who had a community-centric focus. Whether it was grocery stores offering locally grown fruit and vegetables or a locally operated book store that allows its customers to sit down, have a coffee and browse till the sun goes down, being local became the in thing, and it continues to evolve. Why is being local such an influential force for boutiques? Being local speaks to two very important drivers of today’s consumers’ purchasing decision hierarchy.

  • First, consumers want and expect authenticity from the businesses they buy from. They expect the items, or experiences they purchase to be real, not fabricated. They also expect the people and businesses they buy from to be genuine, not phony. Authenticity is inexorably linked to trust. Trust in the business you are buying from, and trust in the people who are delivering the offering. According to Joseph Pine and James Gilmore, authors of the book Authenticity, when customers are deciding to buy, they judge an offering’s and company’s authenticity as much as, if not more than price, quality and availability. Being local speaks to authenticity, and even more so to the trust that can be built from being authentic. Consumers feel that when the business is local, it is more likely to know and understand them. This heightened sense of authenticity and trust is at the heart of being local. It fuels the success of many craft products such as beers, hotels, fitness studios and hotels.


  • Second, today’s consumers have a heightened desire to buy local, because it speaks to supporting the local community. Consumers today want to support those who live and work in the community rather than sending their money outside the community. When consumers purchase locally they feel they are giving back to their community and consequently, supporting those who make the community their home. Lastly, when purchasing locally, consumers feel they are less likely to be taken advantage of, since everyone has to live together in the same community. It follows the principle of “everyone needs to have skin in the game”. When it comes to buying from your business, they prefer your business be invested (e.g., similar values or charitable involvement) in the community.

Just because your business is physically located in the community, does not mean it will be perceived as local. There are lots of big box and small box businesses created and managed elsewhere that do business in a community. Only when consumers see you as being authentically local, trustworthy and most importantly, feel your heart is in the local community, will your business be able to leverage the power of being local. As one studio operator we interviewed said, “They know us because we experience what they do on a daily basis.”

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