Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Successful small businesses cater to the increased demand for healthy, well-priced local products

  • Print
Winnipeg entrepreneur Ida Albo at her Yoga Public yoga studio in downtown Winnipeg.

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

Winnipeg entrepreneur Ida Albo at her Yoga Public yoga studio in downtown Winnipeg. Photo Store

When Winnipeg entrepreneur Ida Albo wants to get a sense of what consumers might be looking for, she'll often look in the mirror.

"I look at myself as a consumer and then extrapolate a little bit," the co-owner of Winnipeg's Fort Garry Hotel said Tuesday as she explained where she and husband Rick Bel got the idea a few years ago to open a yoga studio in downtown Winnipeg.

Despite being an avid jogger, Albo said she was concerned that as she aged, she'd begin losing some of her strength and flexibility. She felt taking yoga classes would be one of the best ways to prevent that from happening.

A little research confirmed she wasn't alone in thinking that way. Demand for yoga classes was growing at a double-digit pace in Canada, so Albo and Bel decided to convert the main floor and lower level of the former Carleton Club on Fort Street into Canada's largest yoga centre.

It proved to be a wise decision. Albo said their Yoga Public studio has also seen demand for its classes grow at a double-digit pace in each of its first two years in operation, "and my guess is that's going to continue."

A new report from the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) helps to reinforce that belief.

The report, released Wednesday as part of the BDC's Small Business Week celebrations in Canada, says five consumer trends have emerged as a result of advances in technology, changing demographics and the 2007-08 recession. And those trends will affect Canadians' buying habits in the coming years, creating new growth opportunities for small- and medium-sized businesses .

One of the trends is what the report refers to as "the new health mania." It said health concerns and health awareness are growing among Canadian consumers and will continue to accelerate as the population ages.

"Consumers now look for products and services to help them maintain and improve their health," it says, "changing the type of products they purchase for their family, the sports they play and how they spend their leisure time."

Pierre Cléroux, the BDC's chief economist, said yoga classes are a good example of the kind of products and services health-conscious Canadians are looking for these days. And not just older Canadians.

"We're also finding the younger generation is also more health conscious," he said. "The way they eat is changing. They eat more fresh vegetables and fruits. And the demand for organic and national foods is rising."

An even more powerful consumer trend is "the buy-local movement," the report says, with close to two-thirds of Canadians saying they've made an effort to buy local or Canadian-made products in the past year.

Peak of the Market, the not-for-profit organization that markets 120 different types of Manitoba-grown vegetables on behalf of local growers, said it's also finding a strong buy-local sentiment here, even though the BDC report said it found consumers in Manitoba and Saskatchewan are the least likely in Canada to buy local or Canadian-made goods.

"The feedback we consistently get is that people want to know what's locally grown," Peak of the Market president and CEO Larry McIntosh said in an interview. "I think people really want to support the local economy... and they want to support local farmers. All the indicators we're hearing is that it's Manitoba-grown first, Canadian second and the U.S. third, if they have a choice."

In a bid to take full advantage of that buy-local mentality, the Manitoba Food Processors Association and the provincial government launched a Buy Manitoba awareness program last year that included putting Manitoba-made logos on locally grown or locally processed products and on the shelves of local Canada Safeway stores.

MFPA executive director Dave Shambrock said in the first year of the program, sales in Safeway stores by the 30 highest-volume Manitoba suppliers increased an average of nearly three per cent.

"In the grocery world, that's huge," he said. "It's like a $1.7-million increase in sales for these products."

The BDC report says while Canadian businesses have begun catering to the increased demand for healthy, well-priced, local products, they've been slow in reacting to the impact the Internet is having on buying behaviour.

It said Canadian online presence remains largely undeveloped, and e-commerce here is lagging beyond that of most other countries. Cléroux said that needs to change.

"Regardless of whether they buy a product over the Internet or in a store, more consumers are influenced by what they see on online channels," he said. "Entrepreneurs must realize that a simple website is no longer sufficient for businesses. Instead, they need to adopt a multi-channel approach."

Other key findings of the BDC study:

  • Consumers are increasingly looking for custom-made solutions that fit their specific needs, and they are becoming more engaged in product creation.
  • Certain consumer habits that surfaced during the 2007-08 recession are becoming the new standard. More consumers expect quality products at reasonable prices and will aggressively search for bargains.
murray.mcneill@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 25, 2013 B6

History

Updated on Friday, October 25, 2013 at 7:02 AM CDT: Replaces photo, changes headline

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Jim Flaherty remembered at visitation as irreplaceable

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Young goslings jostle for position to take a drink from a puddle in Brookside Cemetery Thursday morning- Day 23– June 14, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • Marc Gallant/Winnipeg Free Press. Local- Peregrine Falcon Recovery Project. Baby peregrine falcons. 21 days old. Three baby falcons. Born on ledge on roof of Radisson hotel on Portage Avenue. Project Coordinator Tracy Maconachie said that these are third generation falcons to call the hotel home. Maconachie banded the legs of the birds for future identification as seen on this adult bird swooping just metres above. June 16, 2004.

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

Now that the snow is mostly gone, what are your plans?

View Results

Ads by Google