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:
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:
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:
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:
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.