Social consciousness is spilling over into U.S. consumer’s shopping and dining habits, according to the 2018 Cox Business Consumer Pulse on Small Businesses. Seventy-one percent of survey respondents said they would spend more money at a small business if it supported a positive social or environmental cause.
While 68 percent of consumers think small business owners should openly promote the causes they support, more than half would stop supporting a small business if the causes they supported weren’t in line with the consumer’s social and/or environmental views.
Diversity and inclusivity also factor into consumer support of a small business. Seventy-one percent said it is important to them that the small businesses they frequent practice diverse and inclusive hiring. When asked how important supporting women-owned businesses was to them, nearly one-third of consumers indicated it was significantly meaningful.
Additionally, consumers are placing more importance on the technology offered by the small businesses they frequent. When asked what type of technology would enhance the customer experience at their favorite small businesses, the following were the top three choices:
• 41 percent – Free and reliable WiFi
• 21 percent – Email or online product recommendations based on past purchases
• 18 percent – Point-of-Sale (POS) that accepts mobile payments
Nearly 40 percent of consumers ages 18 to 34 think small businesses should adopt Amazon’s “checkout-less” shopping model.
“Amongst a world of Amazon and e-commerce giants, small brick-and-mortar businesses must rely more on technology to expand their offerings to connected consumers,” said Ed Aaronson, vice president of Cox Business. “Easy access to WiFi, mobile payments and email communication are just a few of the offerings small businesses can adopt to enhance the overall customer experience.”
Using technology to power better experiences at small businesses is important to consumers and is becoming an important factor when consumers think about their cities too. Forty-two percent of consumers say their city is starting to adopt “smart” technology – applications that combine people, connected devices, data and process to improve city operations and the city experience.
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