Survey Reveals Why Consumers Shop Small Businesses

By Jolyn Johnston-Myers
May 06, 2016

In recognition of National Small Business Week, Cox Business recently released the results of their in-house survey which they conduct annually to assess what drives consumers to shop small businesses.

A small business, for the purposes of the Cox survey, is defined as any business with fewer than 20 employees.

Many people are familiar with Cox and the services it provides, but it may surprise some to know that Cox is actually a family-owned business and a full 80 percent of its customers are small business owners. This fact drove the company four years ago to start compiling data to see what drives the success of their main consumer.

Cox Business Senior Vice President Steve Rowley shared some of the results of the small business survey with McPherson’s Mid Kansas Radio -- not coincidentally, a small business in its own right.

Rowley purposefully compared the national responses to those received from Kansans, which revealed a distinct difference when it came to how Kansans shop for clothing and healthcare-related items compared to the rest of the country.

“So 75 percent of consumers (nationwide) are visiting grocery stores or food and beverage stores,” Rowley explained, starting with the type of small business the survey revealed consumers frequent the most.

“The second [most-frequented small business at] 56 percent being restaurants, and the third, 34 percent, being clothing and accessories.” Rowley then clarified, “That's on the national scale.”

He then compared these national statistics to what small businesses Kansans specifically are drawn to, which differed somewhat from the national results.

“Kansas was pretty close, 74 percent for food and beverage, 56 [percent] for restaurants,” said Rowley.  “But 31 percent was healthcare-related.”

In other words, according to the Cox survey, Kansans shop small businesses for healthcare-related reasons more than they shop at small businesses for clothing, at least compared to respondents nationwide.

Kansans also differed from the rest of the country in what motivates them to choose to shop small businesses in the first place.

“What was interesting in Kansas, was 68 percent, the leading driver, was local support,” said Rowley. “So Kansas viewed supporting local business, I think, more important than the national scale,” which overall ranked convenience as the main motivator. “That was a big difference,” Rowley emphasized.

The Cox survey also confirmed the importance of Wi-Fi and social media and how it can be the deciding factor for small business success.

“Technology is growing,” Rowley commented. “Having a website and working with Facebook or email, I think, is really helping these [small businesses] because a lot of folks that are touching those places don't know the size or the volume of your business. Rather, it's the product itself that you have to offer.

“So I just see entrepreneurialism continuing to grow,” he continued. “And I think that every small business operator really has a lot to offer the community in general.”

The complete report on the Cox Business survey can be found at ;