Big brands are acting like small businesses. What does that mean for your small business?

By Rieva Lesonsky

What’s driving consumer behavior? Lots of things right now, as all consumer demographic markets are spending. Mintel just released its North America Consumer Trends 2016 (which you can download for free). One of the key trends Mintel cites means good news for small businesses.

Mintel labels this the “The Big Brand Theory” and explains that “consumers have exchanged the ‘bigger is better’ mantra for right-sized purchases and supporting small businesses.” More North Americans have pledged to shop small, leading to the explosive growth of farmers’ markets and sites like Etsy. Mintel says this has “led to a new emphasis on craftsmanship, regardless of the manufacturer.” In other words, some big businesses are mimicking small businesses, which can cause confusion in the market. This is manifested in the craft beer market, as many “craft” brews actually come from the world’s largest beer makers. Unfortunately, 43 percent of U.S. consumers say craft beer can be made by anyone—it doesn’t have to come from a small brewer.

“Niche is no longer a limitation, nor is it an opportunity reserved for small companies,” explains Jenny Zegler, Consumer Trends Consultant at Mintel. “We’ve entered an era where the power of the story and the authenticity of the connection supersede any lofty moral aspirations, such as ‘shopping small.’ ”

But Mintel’s research reveals that while 36 percent of American consumers trust big businesses “to do the right thing,” 49 percent trust small businesses “to do the right thing.” That is a small advantage you need to use for your benefit, so it’s important you market your small business bona fides and claim your authenticity.

There’s a lot more trends information in the book. Be sure to download a copy.