The small business ‘secret weapon’: Where consumer and small business preferences overlap



What types of consumers are small businesses looking to target? What are consumers looking for in small businesses? Vantiv surveyed 38 small businesses and 199 consumers to get their opinion and find out what features they look for in each other. The responses provide a snapshot into where those qualities overlap. If each were to take out a personal ad looking for the other, they might look something like this.


Looking for a long term relationship with small business

Seventy percent of consumer respondents stated that home repair, consumer services and construction services topped the list of their small business preferences. Sixty-one percent look for local restaurants while only 41 percent of consumers are looking for small businesses that focus on professional or medical services.

Prefer a small business that’s friendly and local

Customer services tops the list of reasons consumers prefer small business over large at 85 percent. Seventy-four percent of consumers want to support their local communities and 66 percent reported small business shopping is preferred because they feel a sense “being known.” Fifty-seven percent of shoppers think that their local businesses have a higher quality of service.

Small businesses with a product focus must be convenient and flexible to meet my needs

When it comes to products, shoppers are looking for businesses that are easy to get to (60 percent) as well as having staff that’s easy to work with (48 percent). The other reasons shoppers specifically look for small business for products overlap with the reasons they chose small business service offering: high quality service (75 percent), support local communities (66 percent), and feeling “known” (55 percent).

Shopping for flowers and gifts are the highest priority

Consumers are passionate about supporting local businesses when looking for flowers and gifts (almost half of respondents). National chains top the list for items such as home appliances (67 percent), electronics (58 percent), online books/music (46 percent), and games/toys at 32 percent.

Consumers report a variety of other reasons why they prefer small businesses, including:

  • Better customer service
  • Ability to provide custom recommendations on products and services
  • White glove approach for solving problems
  • Knowledgeable staff
  • Unique selection of products

Small business:

Small business looking for a loyal customer in search of products and services

Sixty-six percent of small businesses report selling products over services (34 percent). The main products offered are food/beverage (32 percent) and apparel/accessories (12 percent). Businesses who report selling services focus on consumer services at 62 percent and medical/healthcare services at 15 percent.

Prefer local customers that can be supported in-person

The overwhelming majority of small businesses have a physical store (82 percent) while 39 percent sell online exclusively.

Willing to show customers their patronage is valued

Small businesses compete with national chains (32 percent) and other small businesses (34 percent) pretty equally.

Enjoy all age groups

Small businesses report that Gen-Xers support their business most frequently at 92 percent. Seventy-four percent of Baby Boomers are shopping at small businesses and Millennials make up 63 percent of the customers.

Small businesses report they have some additional qualities that separate them from national chains, including:

  • Quality customer service
  • Personalizing the shopping experience
  • Employees with a passion for their customers
  • Neighborly atmosphere
  • Unique selection of goods

Where do these features overlap?

In comparing small business qualities with the additional reasons consumers shop small biz, we’ve got our secret weapon.


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