When it comes to business, bigger isn't always better. A
recent survey of U.S. consumers finds that small businesses are beating out
their oversized competitors by focusing on the little things that matter most
to their customers, according to research published on the website eMarketer.
The online survey by AYTM Market
Research asked participants to indicate why, when choosing where to
take their business, they opt for the little guy. Intimate and highly
personalized service — something you're not likely to find at the average
big-box store — was high on consumers' lists.
While the majority of respondents (56.7 percent) said they
shop small to support their local economies, nearly as many (52.7 percent)
cited personal service as their main reason for choosing small business.
Higher-quality goods and lower prices also made the list, but these factors
weren't nearly as important to shoppers as high-quality
The April 2014 AYTM survey is consistent with earlier
surveys conducted by Web.com and Toluna, which found that customer service
is the most important thing consumers look for when choosing which small
businesses to patronize. Eighty-six percent of respondents to the sites'
September 2013 survey said that they look for excellent customer service or a
customer-focused environment when deciding where to spend their money.
Businesses that keep things "personal, human, intimate
or face to face" were also found to be very attractive to consumers, with
84 percent of respondents listing these attributes as qualities they look for
in a small business. The same number of respondents said they like going to a
place where proprietors and staff know them (and what they need) as soon as
they walk in the door.
A separate survey conducted by Web.com
and Toluna found that the characteristic most commonly associated with small
business — by consumers and small-business "decision-makers" alike —
customer service. Respondents to the August 2013 survey said that,
when they think of small business, they think about the face-to-face,
"human" interactions they're likely to experience.
Seventy-eight percent of respondents considered small
businesses to be "responsive" or "friendly," and 77 percent
said small businesses are more hands-on and direct than larger companies.
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