Buy Small Fry: Consumers Turn To Mom & Pop Brands During Pandemic

It sounds counterintuitive given all the shuttered retail storefront in cities, but consumers were drawn to small businesses during the global health crisis, according to Small Businesses & The Pandemic, a global study from Sendinblue, conducted by CITE Research.  

In fact, 44% have been purchasing more from small brands than they did prior to COVID-19, and younger people more than anyone.

That includes 46% of Gen Z and 51% of millennials. Only 8% plan to spend less. 

The biggest drivers were wanting to help the local economy (57%) and feeling a greater bond with small businesses (52%).  

Not that this entails simply walking into a store: Digital communications are driving these sales, and email above all. 

Email is preferred by 30%, with Facebook a distant second at 13%. In addition, 62% of consumers rank email as one of their top three channels for small business communications, compared to 40% for SMS/Text, 37% for Facebook and 32% for Instagram). 



And email is ranked among the top three in the U.S. (66%), UK (70%), France (62%) and Germany (58%). But Instagram is a close second in Germany. YouTube is also very popular there. 

All demographics prefer email — except for Gen Z. Within that cohort, 23% choose Instagram and 59% rank that as a top three method.

Moreover, 27% are opening email updates more often during the pandemic.  Another 45% are doing so more frequently. 

In contrast, 26% use QR code scans more often, 24% SMS notifications, 20% app push notifications and 17% website push notifications. Also, 17% have turned more to live chat on small business websites.  

They are even likely to share data with small businesses despite greater fears about privacy, with 78% saying they would do so if the company guaranteed it would not sell their information to other firms. They also agree that:  

  • I am more willing to share data with small businesses if I can get discounts or deals — 70%  
  • I am more concerned with online privacy now than pre-pandemic — 68%
  • I trust third-party applications less now than I did a year ago — 65% 
  • I prefer to share my personal data with small businesses over big brands — 61%
  • I am willing to exchange some personal data for personalized ads from small businesses — 59%
  • I am not at all concerned with online privacy with small businesses — 50%

German consumers are least likely to be worried about digital privacy — 60% say so. But only 46% of UK and U.S. shoppers agree.  

In contrast, 75% of U.S. consumers are more worried, along with 73% in the UK. Only 58% feel the same way in Germany.

Here’s more good news if you’re a small business: 46% prefer the online shopping experience provides small businesses. 

What prompts shoppers to spend more with small businesses? Globally, it takes: 

  • Promotions/discounts — 68%
  • Loyalty/rewards programs — 56% 
  • Information/advice — 41%
  • Inspiration on how to use products/services — 31%
  • Supports the same values I do — 25%
  • Entertaining content — 24% 
  • Humorous content — 24%
  • Tutorials — 22%
  • Is transparent with data policies — 14% 

Among nationalities, German consumers are most likely to be swayed by entertaining content (30%), humorous content (33%) and tutorials (22%). 

Here’s more on privacy. 

Despite widespread fears among businesses about Apple IDFA (Identifier for Advertisement), U.S. consumers seem largely out of touch with it. They say:

  • I do not know what the Apple IDFA is — 38%
  • I do not own Apple products so it does not apply to me — 31%
  • I opted into Apple IDFA — 24%
  • I opted out of Apple IDFA — 7%

However, 58% are reviewing policies more carefully since IDFA opt-out. 

What kind of information are they willing to share with small businesses? They select:

  • Gender — 80%
  • Age — 78%
  • Product preferences — 77%
  • Email address — 74%
  • Race — 64%
  • Ethnicity — 63%
  • Sexual orientation — 54%
  • Home address — 57%
  • Location — 59%
  • Religious beliefs — 53%
  • Cell phone number — 50%
  • Browsing activities — 47%
  • Political opinions — 48%
  • Income — 45%
  • Search history — 45%

CITE Research surveyed 4,199 consumers, including 1,000 each in the U.S., France, UK and Germany, in June 2021. The research was commissioned by Sendinblue.





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