Cox Business Survey Unveils U.S. Consumers Have “Big” Ideas about Shopping Small

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(ATLANTA– April 28th, 2015)– An overwhelming number of consumers (92 percent) support small and medium-sized businesses in their communities by patronizing these establishments at least once a week, according to the 2015 Cox Consumer Pulse on Small Businesses. In fact, nearly two-thirds, 63 percent, of the survey respondents, visit a small business at least three times a week, according to the survey findings that were released today.

Seventy-one percent of the survey respondents attributed their frequent patronage of small businesses to a desire to “buy local.” When looking at other reasons consumers frequent small businesses, convenience, 61 percent, and higher levels of customers service, 54 percent, rounded out the top three.

Although the majority of respondents were pleased with their “shopping small” service levels, they ranked a variety of steps small businesses can take to improve the customer experience. Topping this list, 53 percent, is offering more competitive pricing, while many respondents, 46 percent, suggested that small businesses offer loyalty programs. Expanding their hours of operation, 32 percent; broadening their offerings, 24 percent; and offering free Wi-Fi, 20 percent; also would help enhance the customer experience.

Make Entrepreneurship a Class Act
The study also unveiled a strong desire to prepare and even create the next generation of small business owners by teaching young students the importance of entrepreneurship in the classroom. Nearly 80 percent of respondents think curriculum on entrepreneurship and small business ownership should be covered in K-12 education, with 50 percent responding this curriculum should begin before high school.

Tap Email to Engage Consumers
Small business owners looking to attract and retain customers should make the most of email campaigns, with slightly more than half of consumers ranking email as the most effective communications channel. Despite the shift to mobile devices, respondents ranked several channels higher than texts/SMS in terms of their effectiveness:

• 53 percent – email
• 48 percent – in-person events
• 45 percent – social marketing
• 32 percent – direct mail
• 18 percent – texts/SMS
• 7 percent – phone

“From Providence, Rhode Island to Orange County, Calif., neighborhoods are experiencing a newfound consumer movement to elevate local economies by supporting small businesses,” said Steve Rowley, senior vice president of Cox Business. “While consumers are doing their collective part in building communities through their patronage of small businesses, Cox Business realizes the importance of providing these establishments with the tools they need to continue to engage consumers, deliver high levels of service and strengthen their communities through job creation.”

Governmental agencies also should play a role in furthering small business development, according to the survey respondents. When asked if the federal government is doing enough to promote small business growth, nearly 80 percent of consumers responded “no” with 66 percent also responding that local government agencies are falling short in this area. The Democratic Party received slightly more votes, 41 percent, from consumers when addressing which party does more to support small businesses. Republicans landed 32 percent, with other respondents, 27 percent, casting their responses for Independents.

Cox Business conducted a blind survey of nearly 1,400 U.S. consumers in eight states to pulse their sentiments on the importance of shopping at small and medium-sized businesses. The survey, conducted in April, was released this week. Complete findings from the 2015 Cox Consumer Pulse on Small Businesses is available at CoxBlue.com/survey.

More details on the 2015 Cox Consumer Pulse on Small Businesses are available on CoxBLUE.com, the company’s social destination for businesses. Follow @CoxBusiness on Twitter and join the conversation using #GoSmall on Twitter to share the results with your network.

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