How can business owners support the ‘Vocal for Local’ campaign

7 min read
Priyanka Desai

The Swadeshi movement of the pre-Independence era was a landmark movement that contributed to the development of Indian nationalism. Last year, when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi gave the “Vocal For Local” message, it was a déjà vu of sorts.

As the global pandemic hampered local economies worldwide, the call to shop local was amplified.

In India specifically, the #VocalForLocal hashtag on social media spread like wildfire. It promoted the concept of building a more self-sufficient and independent India. The movement is giving back buying power to consumers, while encouraging them to spend money on products and services produced locally.

If you’re planning to capitalize on the “Vocal for Local” movement, you’re joining the ranks of companies across India that aim to highlight their Indian roots. Below, we’ll discuss the specific steps on how to advertise your local business to encourage customers to shop with you.

1. Rethink your packaging

One way to be vocal for your local shop is to redo the packaging of your products. Here are some ideas to help boost your visibility.

  • Add a brand mark: You can place your brand mark on each product you sell. This works especially well if you own a grocery store.
  • List your locations: If you have more shops within the city or across India, list the different locations on paper newsletters or cloth bags.
  • Market your business tagline: Give away T-shirts with your tagline and web address on them. This will work to enhance business visibility.
  • Highlight local product sourcing: If you’re sourcing products from different parts of the country, you should mention that on the packaging.

In a series of social media posts last year, Kamdhenu Paints joined the “Vocal For Local” bandwagon. They launched a new social media campaign called “Be Indian Buy Indian” and encouraged consumers to look for the “Made in India” tag before purchasing products.

By adding the “Made in India” tag to your packaging, you can show your Indian pride as a local business.

Add it to your shop’s banner, bills and other marketing materials. You may download the Made in India tag here.

2. Be a Vocal for Local sponsor

As a “Vocal for Local” business, you could sponsor local events to boost your visibility in the market. Supporting local artists and activities is a great way to show that you care and are willing to promote the Indian economy and local artisans.

In exchange, your business name is featured at any event you sponsor. Moreover, if your small business is the lead sponsor of a particular community event, you will probably get a mention in a radio update or local newspaper.

Look for ways to customize promotions, communications and products to fit with local cultural sensibilities. This also holds true for virtual events.

Retro boombox sitting in front of graffiti wall

As an example, online furniture seller PepperFry launched a campaign called, “Swadeshi Is Great.” This three-part digital campaign helped recognize and celebrate Indian artisans by shining a light on the superior quality of swadeshi furniture. The tagline of the ad was “furniture proudly made in India,” which encouraged their customers to shop for local Indian furniture.

PepperFry’s campaign success is a great example of how you can get your name out there in a favourable light — without burning a hole in your pocket. It also increases your chances at connecting you to a larger target audience by promoting local products.

3. Add a local flavour to your shop’s branding

The look and feel of your shop must embody the “Vocal for Local” theme by being personal and warm. For instance, if you sell traditional brass lamps with intricate carvings and other furnishings sourced from Kanchipuram, you might want to decorate your shop to reflect local cultural aesthetics. You could add things like:

  • Kolams (traditional rangolis made from rice powder and fresh flowers)
  • Urli
  • Well-carved furniture
  • Lots of green potted plants

Furthermore, to propel the growth of your local reputation, look out for brand salience. As a business owner, you should ask yourself:

  • Is my product different from other products around the world?
  • Does my product have world-class quality?
  • Do my processes and production capacities match the global best-in-class?

To engage in local marketing, create a responsive website so that potential customers can easily find you online. Today, people look for everything online — you want to be listed there when they search for your products or services.

4. Instill a sense of urgency

When you instill a sense of urgency in your marketing messaging, your target audience is more likely to feel the pressure and make a purchase from you. That is why flash sales and short-term discounts are drive high retail sales.

Indian bakery chain Monginis ran a small “buy one, get one free” campaign during Independence Day 2020.

This was a limited period offer that encouraged local shoppers to make a purchase before the expiration date on August 15, 2020.

The ad also contained the phone number of the local Monginis, for those who wanted to enquire about the offer.

Online tea seller Chaayos announced a similar flash sale around Independence Day 2020. Keeping up with the “Vocal For Local'' movement, this campaign included a unique selling point (USP) that included images based on Indian tea and snacks. It gave consumers a feeling of localness, so that they could feel connected to the brand.

Next time you want to increase foot traffic in your local shop, use words such as:

  • “Don’t delay”
  • “Hurry”
  • “Once in a lifetime”
  • “Offer expires”

These words will help encourage consumers to visit before the sale is over/supplies are gone. Infusing this with your local Indian offer will increase the chances of attracting more customers.

If you are wondering how to start a social media marketing strategy for your local business, you could take inspiration from these consumer brands and their presence on social media.

5. Set aside a budget for local PR

Even in this digital era, people love seeing TV ads or hearing radio jingles that are catchy and innovative. Do you remember Lijjat Papad’s television commercial? The Shri Mahila Griha Udyog food product has transcended decades and many remember the little jingle today.

In October 2020, IndianOil appealed to many Indians using a black and white video ad that featured Gandhiji. Because Gandhiji strongly advocated the swadeshi concept, it inspired consumers to shop local and endorse products made in India. The video also celebrated Gandhian values and ideologies.

You do not have to be a global brand to create ads.

As a small, wholly-Indian business, you can come up with:

  • A creative TV commercial
  • A catchy social media campaign
  • A radio jingle

These ideas can help highlight the localness of your product and tell people why they must purchase from you.

Similarly, you can reach out to local newspapers and magazines to pitch your business. For instance, if you have recently partnered with another local brand or started sourcing products from a remote tribal village in the Northeast, that could make an exciting print story.

Reaching out to any print publication is not as tedious or expensive as it once was. If you do not have the capacity, hire a local PR team to manage it for you. Public relations, when done right, will give you the exposure you deserve in front of your community.

Related: How to make a video without spending a bomb

Continue the shop local momentum

Although this is not the first time that PM Modi has floated his localization vision, being “Vocal for Local” is an excellent way for businesses to be self-reliant and proud of their local offerings, manufacturers, and supply chain.

This offers local businesses a fantastic opportunity to get creative about how they promote themselves. They can identify new (local) USPs of products or services and think of innovative ways to promote them.

Do not stick to just one channel. It’s a good idea to market yourself both online and offline.

There is no doubt that globalization has its place, but prioritizing the local economy is the need of the hour.