The majority of U.S. consumers, 84 percent, will spend the same or less this holiday season than they did last year, with the top influencer on making any purchase being cost (30 percent), according to a new survey released by Pitney Bowes Inc. The survey is consistent with the findings of the most recent NFIB Small Business Optimism Index which reported low expectations by small businesses for the third consecutive month.
However, despite challenging times for both the consumer and the small business owner, opportunities exist for businesses to attract those available holiday dollars that are both inexpensive and efficient.
“When money is tight and there’s an absence of optimism, the most important thing a small or medium-sized business can do is connect with the right customers,” said Jeff Crouse, vice president and general manager, small and medium businesses, Pitney Bowes. “There is a lot a business can do now to capture those available dollars that costs very little, including creating mobile web pages, reaching out through social media and extending appealing offers in places that reach their customer most effectively.”
Crouse will join a panel of other small business experts and owners in a live discussion Tuesday, November 13, from 12-1pm EDT on how to attract customers when they are ready to buy. Timed to assist business owners to make the most of the upcoming fourth quarter, the first free live streamed webcast is part of the new Customer Magnet Series, presented by Pitney Bowes and Google. (Twitter: #SMBmagnet)
Customer Magnet Series moderator Gene Marks, owner of The Marks Group and a frequent commentator on small business issues, says small business owners are capable of capturing new customers but have to think creatively. “Of course these are challenging times. But the smart business people I know are using inexpensive and powerful cloud, mobile and social tools to generate more demand and grow their companies. I’m looking forward to discussing some of these new ideas with the panel.”
Of the consumers surveyed, 52 percent say they’ll spend the same while 32 percent will spend less this holiday season. While small businesses can find it difficult to compete with larger peers on cost alone, the second-most influential factor in consumers’ purchasing decision are deals, including coupons and online special offers (16 percent each), which many small businesses can take advantage of to attract customers.
In the current cluttered environment, knowing how and to whom to market is more important than ever. The survey found respondents consider big box retailers, such as Costco and Home Depot, the best at promoting the products they sell (52 percent), followed by major retailers such as Macy’s and Gap (35 percent), with small businesses and local shops trailing at only 8 percent.
The survey, conducted in October 2012 by ORC International, reached more than 1,000 U.S. consumers nationwide over the age of 18.