How to Build a Local, Loyal Customer Base for Your Brand

With more options available than ever, it’s never been more important to connect with consumers face-to-face. Do you have a local loyalty strategy in place?

When we think about building strong local consumer bases, “craft fairs” often come to mind. The idea of a local market was never a very fashionable concept 10 years ago, but things have changed- they’re not just for startup fashion brands. Even big businesses are showing at local markets, and while you may still find some handcrafted gems, many of the products were likely manufactured in production facilities. It’s a great departure from craft markets past- and an excellent opportunity for your business.

What’s more, don’t be surprised to learn they require sizable investments. Even when the buy-in is only a few hundred dollars, you’ll need to spend money on a high quality, on-brand, attractive booth as well as booth buildout expenses, staffing, branding, packaging, inventory and more. Be price sensitive about the products you sell at these fairs, but do know that it’s now possible to spend a few thousand dollars on jewelry at any given market.

Craft fairs are gaining in popularity and there are more and more fairs and event-style aggregates than ever. They’re excellent places to find Millennial shoppers too. Speaking to WWD, Marni Schapiro – director of retail at Snap Inc. (Snapchat’s parent company), attributes $3 trillion to the cohort’s spending power.

They’re easy to launch, only requiring 10-20 brands with a unique point of view. They may be held in outdoor spaces, hotels, event halls and more. They’re similar to pop-up shops, however, pop-ups are mono-brand or feature just a few businesses and pop-ups take place in brick-and-mortar spaces.

The Benefits of Selling at Local Craft Fairs

  • Meeting Your Customer Base Face-to-Face
  • Building Brand Loyalty
  • Growing Your Brand’s Profile in the Community (Brand Awareness)
  • Email List Building
  • Social Media Content
  • Liquidating Unsold Merchandise Without Advertising Discounts Online
  • An Experimental Playground for Testing Products, Fit, Price Points…
  • Having a Physical Touchpoint for Your Consumer

Understand the Market

The very essence of a craft fair creates a connection between participating businesses and members of the community, and members of the community with one another. Take the time out to research the best options in your area. Find the right fit and get involved.

The fact that a market occurs in your community, doesn’t automatically qualify your brand as a good fit. Be mindful of your resources- choose wisely. These local markets – particularly the best of them – are now expensive and in high demand. There can be a waiting list to participate and it can be challenging to become a participant the first time around. These markets are highly competitive. Owners of startup fashion brands shouldn’t be intimidated. There are opportunities for emerging brands too. You only need to demonstrate you have the traits and offerings that are important to the local consumer base, just as growth stage and even more established companies must do.

For example, Southern California is home to a number of exciting craft markets, each with its own positioning, style and audience. Two such markets are Echo Park Craft Fair and Mojave Flea. Echo Park Craft Fair is in the hip and creative LA neighborhood of Echo Park. They feature startup fashion brands and established companies alike, which points to the desires of the local shoppers. Baggu and Moon Juice have even had stands at the fair in 2018 to connect with the local community. Meanwhile, Mojave Flea curates brands in Ojai, Palm Springs and Joshua Tree Valley. If you apply and you’re based outside of these areas, you won’t be considered for participation. This particular fair is centered on this area so pitching would only be squandering precious resources.

Deploy Smart Engagement Tactics

As you work to foster a loyal, local customer base, create real connections via focused engagement tactics.

  • Leverage Instagram to announce your participation beforehand.
  • Use Instagram in real-time to capture moments at the fair, show people in/with your products and otherwise showing the excitement and engagement of the community with your brand. Startup fashion brands, this is especially important for you to show your brand has a life beyond the digital screen.
  • Make email acquisition a priority. Consider holding a fun raffle- it’s a good incentive for sharing contact information.
  • Engage with people who tagged the event in their photos and videos on Instagram. Try to engage on the same day, while the event is still happening to entice users to swing by your booth. You can meet people in person, boost sales and strengthen your ties in the community.
  • Share user-generated content (UGC) whenever you find on-brand, high-quality images featuring your brand. Or, to ensure you’ll have great UGC, invite friends to come to your booth and create a party-like atmosphere- ample Instagram content included. Do take care to spend time engaging with visitors and not just the people you already know.
  • Finally, be positive about your brand, participating in the market and your community at large. Emanate a positive attitude – great energy is palpable and undeniably authentic. It makes everyone feel good and will have guests gravitating towards your space at the event.

Next Steps: Continue Strengthening Your Local Customer Base


Need help with an event marketing strategy? Or do you need assistance to make a deep dive into consumer market research? We help startup fashion brands, growth stage businesses and enterprise companies alike. Get in touch. Call us at 310-957-5264 or email us at hello@scalingretail.com.

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