Small Business Wins Big with Arizona Consumers

Survey shows why Arizona consumers like to buy local

by Ellen Joyce Conroy

shutterstock_253168342Arizonans have embraced the national trend of patronizing small businesses in overwhelming numbers. Eighty-eight percent of Arizona consumers support small businesses in their communities by buying small at least once a week, and 64 percent buy small two or more times a week, according to the 2015 Cox Consumer Pulse on Small Businesses.

For the third year in a row, Cox Business conducted a survey of small business to better understand the technology tools they need to engage consumers, deliver high levels of service and strengthen Arizona communities through job creation.

Nearly 1,400 American consumers across eight states, including Arizona, gave their reasons for shopping small. With 157 Arizona respondents, the survey shows the reasons why Arizona consumers find it important to buy local.

The familiarity, engagement and convenience of small-business owners and employees are what Arizonans enjoy about shopping small. Fifty-four percent of Arizona consumers believe that small businesses deliver better customer service than larger companies.

When asked how small-business owners can improve the customer experience, offering frequent shopper and loyalty programs ranked highest among Arizonans consumers, followed by offering more competitive pricing and expanding the hours of operation. The survey also found that many respondents believe Wi-Fi service, such as Cox Business Guest Wi-Fi, improves the customer experience, and patrons of businesses are coming to expect access to free and fast Internet service when they are shopping.

The economic impact of buying small can be measured in real dollars. According to the Andersonville Study of Retail Economics, for every $100 that is spent locally, $68 stays in the community’s economy. This cash circulation spurs job creation and strengthens the overall infrastructure of local economies.

Shopping small doesn’t just help the economy; it strengthens the community as a whole. Arizonans said that teaching youth the importance of entrepreneurship and how to run one’s own business is important. When asked if K-12 curriculum should include entrepreneurship and small business ownership, 83 percent of respondents said yes.  Arizona respondents also believe this curriculum should begin in elementary school, with a larger number of national respondents selecting high school as the ideal time.

Despite the considerable support from community members, small businesses need more support from the government, Arizonans said. Consumer feedback was negative when asked if the government is doing its fair share to help small businesses; 74 percent said not enough from the local government and 78 percent said not enough from the federal government.

The Political Split

Unlike national respondents, Arizona respondents were about evenly split when asked which political party does more to support small business growth:

35%   Democratic (compared to 41% Democrat in national sample)

34%   Independent (compared to 27% Independent in national sample)

31%   Republican (compared to 32% Republican in national sample)

 

Arizonans Support Small Business

When asked which small businesses they
support on a regular basis, Arizonans said:

Restaurants 77%
Repair and maintenance (general automotive repair, oil change shops) 60%
Healthcare services (physicians, dentists, chiropractors) 57%
Personal and laundry services (barbershops, beauty salons, nail salons) 53%
Miscellaneous retailers (florists, pet supplies, novelty shops) 51%
Building material/supply dealers 39%
Clothing and clothing accessories stores 34%
(4 percent more than the national average)
Health and personal care stores (beauty supply, pharmacies) 31%
Professional and technical services (lawyers, realtors, CPAs) 28%

When looking at all the ways small businesses can improve the customer experience, Arizonans said:

Offer frequent shopper/loyalty programs 54%
Offer more competitive pricing 53%
Expand their hours of operation 31%
Broaden their offerings 25%
Offer free Wi-Fi 19%
Offer e-commerce capabilities 13%
Hire more employees 11%
Offer more payment options (mobile) 10%

Source: 2015 Cox Business Consumer Sentiment Survey on Small Business

Ellen Joyce Conroy is a manager with Cox Business specializing in business-to-business communication and small business growth.

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