Local brands losing favor with N.M. consumer, survey suggests

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New Mexicans still have a lot of affection for locally owned stores and brands, but as more and more people go to the internet for purchases, that loyalty is eroding, says an annual survey released by The Garrity Group Public Relations.

The changing buying preferences present a challenge for local business owners who may have a unique product or service but have not yet found a way to reach the growing online shopping community.

The Albuquerque-based Garrity Group, in conjunction with Research and Polling Inc., has been conducting the Garrity Perception Survey for seven years, though not all the questions are asked every year. The latest phone survey of 403 adults was carried out between Feb. 8 to 14.

In 2013, 47 percent of respondents said they preferred a locally owned brand when they shopped for goods and services, 6 percent a national brand and 41 percent expressed no preference. In 2017, the group favoring a local brand slid to 41 percent, while the group saying it didn't matter rose to 47 percent.

"The preference for local shopping is slowly slipping," Tom Garrity said, and the trends among younger shoppers are even more pronounced. "Local business owners need to find ways to connect with customers," he said, "and not by berating the national companies."

Garrity, who advises businesses across the state, said one lesson is that businesses have to give New Mexicans the best of both worlds: advertise their local roots but offer the convenience of online shopping with in-store pickup or delivery.

The survey also tried to gauge the number of online transactions being made in the state. It concluded that the typical New Mexico resident makes five a month with an average sale between $20 and $100. But more than a third of New Mexicans said they made no online purchases in the past year, according to the survey, which said they might be older or do not have access to the internet.

National surveys compiled by the Pew Research Center show almost 8 in 10 Americans make regular online purchases.

"New Mexico clearly does not spend as much money online or make as many purchases online as other parts of the country," Garrity said.

The survey also had some surprising findings in the area of news and information.

More younger New Mexicans, those 18 to 34, are increasingly skeptical of television as a news source, Garrity said. Since 2011, their frequency of using television as a source for news has dropped 21 percent, while 14 percent view local TV news as less trustworthy than a few years ago.

"The biggest issue facing traditional media is relevancy," Garrity wrote. Though newspapers are holding their own as an information source, an increasing number of people access news and information through social networking sites. "Millennials are fleeing television as a news source at a greater rate than newspapers are losing market share."

As far as which industries and institutions are viewed as "favorable," the Garrity Group reports the top ranking goes to small business with a 75 percent favorability rating statewide. Other institutions above 60 percent include farm and ranch businesses, the national laboratories, community colleges, the solar and wind industry, church organizations, state universities and local banks.

The least favorable institutions or industries in New Mexico are "out-of-state business" and mining, both at 27 percent. National banks were at 30 percent, and the courts and justice system were rated favorable by just 33 percent of respondents.

There are also wide differences on what is favorable in certain parts of New Mexico.

The northwest part of the state has high regard for scientists and the oil and gas industry, while the highest regard in southwest New Mexico is for family members and religious entities.

In Santa Fe and the north-central area, teachers and local banks get high marks. Doctors and the solar and wind industry score more points in the Albuquerque area.

Garrity said that's in part what makes the state so unique. "New Mexico is really a conglomerate of five different states," he said.

Find the full survey report at http://garritypr.com/2017-garrity-perception-survey-showcases-consumer-insights.

Contact Bruce Krasnow at bkrasnow@sfnewmexica­n.com. This story first published in the Santa Fe New Mexican, a sister publication of The Taos News.

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