Social consciousness is spilling over into U.S. consumers’ shopping and dining habits—and 7 in 10 consumers (71 percent) would spend more money at a small business if it supported a positive social or environmental cause, according to the 2018 Consumer Pulse on Small Businesses from voice, data and video services firm Cox Business.
But that’s where thongs get complicated: 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.
Consumers are also placing more importance on the technology offered
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.
“The cards have never been more stacked against small business survival,” said Steve Rowley, executive vice president of Cox Business, in a news release. “With the growth of Amazon and e-commerce in general, small brick-and-mortar businesses have to rely on technology in order to deliver great shopping and dining experiences that keep consumers coming back.”
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.
Cox Business commissioned a blind survey of American consumers in April of 2018. Respondents to the online survey included a total of 1,129 consumers. The margin of error for this survey is plus or minus 3 percent.