At a time when two-day shipping seems standard and drone delivery is within reach, Americans continue to have faith in the small brick and mortar businesses on Main Street.
By Bill Brunelle
According to Gallup, 70 percent of Americans have confidence in small businesses, compared with just 21 percent of Americans who have confidence in big businesses. Even as big businesses get bigger and more virtual, they continue to lack a close connection to the American consumer.
Small businesses, on the other hand, build close relationships with new consumers every day. Looking closer at these relationships, it is how and why small business owners build them that may explain why Americans continue to love small businesses.
Small Businesses Represent the American Dream
Americans love few things more than a story of success built on hard work and perseverance. Small businesses represent the diligence of an individual, family or generations of relatives. They reflect the values of freedom, independence and entrepreneurship which built this country. Even as big businesses continue to grow, small businesses become a relatable underdog. As small businesses reflect each of these emotional elements, they become more than a place to spend money—they become the businesses Americans want to root for.
Large supercenters and online retailers may pride themselves on a vast inventory, but consumers may actually prefer the selection at small businesses. According to ComScore and UPS, 61 percent of consumers prefer small businesses because they offer unique products. Similarly, 26 percent of consumers say small businesses actually have a broader assortment of products than big businesses. Small retailers often specialize in one category, such as home improvement, books or shoes. Within their specialization, they can provide a broader selection and deeper knowledge of products than larger retailers.
Customer Service Counts
Speaking of specialization, small businesses offer unmatched expertise in their categories. This expertise translates to a more personalized and helpful customer service experience for consumers. According to Yodle, 96 percent of consumers think local businesses provide more personalized service than national chains, while 80 percent of consumers think local businesses provide better overall customer service than national chains.
Small Businesses Keep Things Local
The growth of large retailers and far-reaching national chains brings sameness into the marketplace. No matter where Americans live or travel throughout the country, they can find the same brands, products, meals, accommodations and attractions. But communities aren’t created equally—they have different needs, cultures and people. Small businesses reflect the local community because they are built with the local community in mind. They understand the needs of the community and the lifestyles of local consumers. By keeping things local, small businesses add value to the community and make lasting impressions on consumers.
No matter how many perks big businesses offer their customers, Americans continue to appreciate the value that small and local establishments bring to their communities. By understanding what Americans value about their businesses, small and local business teams can better prepare messaging and strategies that will resonate.
Bill Brunelle is co-founder of Independent We Stand, a cause-marketing campaign sponsored by STIHL, which is dedicated to educating communities about the importance and strong economic benefits of supporting locally owned businesses. Independent We Stand inspires small business owners across the country to celebrate their locally owned status and help consumers understand the importance of supporting them. @IndWeStand. For more information, visit www.independentwestand.org.