Three times as many consumers are opting to support smaller operators when buying goods or services if price and convenience were equal to larger firms, according to new research.
A study from AXA Business Insurance among UK consumers was designed to establish the motivators behind purchases when buying goods or services from small and big businesses.
Opening hours were cited as the biggest reason consumers purchase from big rather than small businesses, with price the second biggest reason.
However, consumers are seemingly happy to pay up to five per cent more when buying from a small business. Customer service appears to be where smaller firms can excel over large businesses. Three quarters of consumers surveyed felt SMEs do customer care better than bigger organisations.
Providing a ‘real person’ to deal with is viewed as the most valued aspect for consumers over bigger counterparts. SMEs are also viewed as nearly three times more likely to provide quality products and nearly four times as likely to treat their staff well.
Darrell Sansom, managing director at AXA, said: "While much of this may come as no surprise to SMEs, we do think that there are some real positives for small business that come out of this research and also some areas where many small businesses could make themselves more competitive."
When questioned about things that would motivate consumers to purchase from a smaller business for something they had traditionally bought elsewhere, special offers and effective marketing ranked at the top of the list, as well as friends’ recommendations.
"We know that the last few years have been a tough environment for pretty much all businesses and it seems that possibly consumers have turned to bigger providers during this time," added Sansom.
"However, we know that SMEs are much more optimistic about the future than they were a year ago and we hope that this will be reflected in the growth of their businesses."
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