Even amidst a global pandemic, consumers believe in supporting their communities by purchasing from locally owned businesses instead of national retailers. According to a new survey of more than 550 U.S. consumers by ZypMedia, the programmatic advanced TV platform for local media companies connecting advertisers with their local audiences across all screens, more than half (53%) of consumers indicated that they are more likely to buy from a local business instead of a national retailer during the COVID-19 crisis.
In fact, of those consumers who are more likely to buy locally during the crisis, 68% of them stated they will continue to make purchases at local businesses post-pandemic.
Community is a Driving Force Among Consumers
When asked why supporting local businesses is so important, there were two clear leading reasons—supporting their local community (84%) and local economy (54%).
“Local businesses are the engine of our economy and it’s reassuring to see that Americans aren’t abandoning them during these uncertain times,” said Aman Sareen, CEO of ZypMedia. “How businesses market to their customers is more critical than ever as consumers believe in remaining loyal to their local businesses, while at the same time being conscious of their current economic and social distancing situations.”
Loyal Customers Remain Loyal
Due to small business closures during COVID-19, consumers have slightly lessened their reliance on these types of merchants. The survey compared how consumers’ percentage of purchases made at local retailers versus national outlets changed before COVID-19.
Highly loyal local shoppers tend to stay loyal even during this crisis. Consumers who tend to spend more than 50% at local businesses have stayed mostly the same during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Additionally, those who spent less than 25% locally have increased by 15% during the pandemic. Whereas those consumers who made 25-50% of their purchases locally, decreased shopping at local stores by 15% during the outbreak. Net being 15% of respondents who used to allocate 25-50% of their spend locally have decreased their spend to less than 25%.
What Types of Incentives Make Consumers Shop Local? They Might Surprise You
When asked what local retailers could do to drive more business in these challenging times, price wasn’t top of mind. In fact, consumers felt that businesses that supported the shelter-in-place, security of free delivery (57%) and contactless delivery / curbside pickup (56%) were the clear leaders.
When asked why consumers shop at national retailers, responses were spread across the board with convenience (52%) and variety (49%) as the top reasons followed by prices, and exact brand/product at 39% and 35%, respectively. Additionally, 37% of respondents selected national outlets simply because local businesses are closed.
“Consumers are definitely skewing towards safety and convenience during this time,” added Sareen. “These are important messages for businesses to use in their marketing as they continue to engage with consumers to best address their concerns now, as well their pandemic-altered purchasing behaviors in the future.”
Lastly, local businesses are utilizing digital strategies to connect with consumers across a variety of channels. As consumers are sheltering in place and have been increasing their content consumption on mobile devices and computers, businesses have been reaching consumers on social media (66%) and through online advertising (37%). Local businesses have also been using traditional media including radio (27%), TV advertising (26%) and Out-Of-Home/newspaper (25%) as an avenue to engage with consumers.
To access the full whitepaper, Data Analysis of Consumer Sentiment for Small Businesses During the COVID-19 Pandemic, click here.