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Top 5 Little-Known Reasons Why Customers Buy From Small Businesses

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Image source: The Motley Fool/Upsplash

As a small business owner, you should spend lots of time thinking about your customers: who they are, what they need, and why they buy from you. Building stronger, deeper, more loyal customer relationships is the best way for small businesses to find a profitable niche and stay ahead of competition from big box retailers and corporations. Being small can be an advantage, if your small size helps you stay closer to your customers.

A new survey from VistaPrint and Wix offers surprising insights into why customers buy from small businesses. Let's look at a few reasons -- and lessons for your small business marketing.

Customers actively want to "shop small" with small businesses

First, it's important to keep in mind that many customers are rooting for small businesses. People want businesses like yours to succeed, they value the role your business plays in the community, and they will often go out of their way to support small businesses instead of giving every last dollar in their checking accounts to big corporations.


According to survey data from the VistaPrint and Wix 2024 Small Business Marketing Report, large percentages of U.S. consumers feel a strong impulse to shop with small businesses.

Here are a few fun facts from the survey:

  • 78% of consumers say "it's important for them to shop small."

  • 46% of consumers regularly seek out small businesses in their local communities

  • 41% say that supporting a local business is a good reason to shop small instead of with a big corporation

  • 40% shop at small businesses once or twice per month

  • 36% shop at small businesses once or twice per week

The lesson: Don't assume that there is no room for your business in a world with so many big corporate competitors. People are out there in your local community (or online) who want to support your small business, if you can just get them introduced to your company. That's where small business marketing can help!

Why consumers "shop small"

The VistaPrint/Wix survey found five key reasons why consumers buy from small businesses instead of big corporations. Let's look at these reasons, and see how they could become a bigger competitive advantage for your business.

1. Location and convenience (mentioned by 49% of consumers)

"Shopping small" is also often a matter of "buying local." If you own a small retail business, restaurant, coffee shop, or any other business that relies on foot traffic and real-life interaction, you should look for ways to improve your local search engine marketing. For example, it's easy to sign up for a Google Business Profile -- just be sure to keep your details updated. This will make it easier and more convenient for customers to find your business location.

2. Product quality (45% of consumers)

Small businesses cannot do everything or offer every type of product like a big box store, but they can do a few little things incredibly well. If you focus on just a few great products, you'll be more likely to create a memorable impression with your customers.

Whether it's a cupcake bakery that's known for one special flavor, or a local fitness gym that provides a one-of-a-kind kickboxing class, think about what it takes for your business to be unique, with hard-to-find and hard-to-replace products and customer experiences.

3. Price (43% of consumers)

This is a surprising answer from the consumer survey, because usually it is hard for small businesses to compete on price -- big corporations have big economies of scale that make products cheaper on a per-unit basis.

But sometimes, small businesses can be a more cost-effective place for customers to shop. During the recent high inflation, some big corporations were raising prices to maximize profit -- but many small businesses did not pass on their rising costs to customers in the same way.

Don't price your products so low that you can't be successful. But look for ways to communicate to customers that your prices really are competitive, and that you're trying to give them fair prices and excellent value for their money.

4. Wanting to support local business (41% of consumers)

Small businesses have a lot of built-in goodwill with local customers. People will often want to give your business a chance, just because you're local. Use small business marketing like social media and hosting live local events to get better known in your neighborhood. The more you are known as a local fixture and a generous part of the community, the more people will spread the word about your business.

5. Having a positive impact on my local economy (38%)

There's a reason why so many small businesses sponsor local kids' sports teams. Small businesses are the lifeblood of the local economy. Your small business marketing shouldn't be all about selling your products.

Instead, you should also tell the stories of how your business engages with the community -- share photos and stories of your employees (with their permission), local organizations and good causes that you support, and more.

Bottom line

Small business marketing doesn't always have to be technical, complicated, and heavily digital. It's often about building relationships with people and getting your business's name out there in the community. The Small Business Report from VistaPrint and Wix shows that there are a lot of people in your local community who want to help your business succeed -- go find them.

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Top 5 Little-Known Reasons Why Customers Buy From Small Businesses was originally published by The Motley Fool