Marketers, rejoice! We’ve made it through another bustling shopping season. But while the pressure is off for consumers, small businesses should begin plotting their marketing strategies for the year ahead. The ultimate key to success is understanding who your customers are, and the most effective ways to reach them. Over the years, the demographics of where consumers shop has changed. Instead of only shopping online at large retail stores, younger consumers are now focusing their efforts on supporting local and small businesses – both online and at storefronts.
Shopping small to support local businesses is an ongoing trend, and one that we’ll continue to see, moving forward. While it’s commonly believed that younger generations prefer big box stores and online retailers like Amazon, iStock’s Visual GPS data revealed that 40% of Gen Z and Millennials have increased their local shopping habits over pre-pandemic levels, rivaling even older generations. Younger generations are also more likely to connect with the emotional benefits of shopping locally and willing to pay more for their products and services.
While younger generations are breaking the stereotype, opting out of large retailers and supporting small business, it’s imperative that businesses can keep up with the demand. Here are three marketing tips that companies can implement to appeal to younger generations:
- Engage with young consumers through video. Video is the most effective method for generating interest in small businesses among younger generations. In addition, it’s effective for highlighting products, their usage, and resulting emotional benefits. Marketers tend to shy away from video because of the cost, but there are ways to incorporate video without breaking the bank. Recently, iStock created a free, quick and easy video editor that can help any small business bring their visual storytelling to life, and doesn’t require any previous design or editing experience! After practical info, connection to consumers and community is what people most want to see. Our data revealed that almost one third of consumers say it’s how they select small businesses to shop or do business with. This is a perfect segway into our second tip.
- Choose marketing visuals that showcase community support. One of the key benefits of supporting small businesses is that it simultaneously helps the community, with over 80% of consumers saying they appreciate businesses who meet the needs of the local community. Small businesses need to walk the walk by including visuals to help support this and to draw people in. Visual examples of this include: leading a fundraiser at a local school; giving donations (food, clothes, water) to a shelter; and sponsoring a local event. A little can go a long way for a community and its respective shoppers. Small businesses should keep this in mind by implementing marketing strategies that successfully demonstrate their community engagement. If they can do so successfully, it will help them resonate with customers of all ages.
- Embrace the evolution of technology. Since the onset of the pandemic, the amount of content consumed through social media has grown exponentially (the average time U.S. users spent on social media in 2020 increased to 65 minutes daily, compared to 54 minutes and 56 minutes in the previous years. In addition, 63% of consumers say they use mobile phones more now as a way to transact and pay for things than ever before. For small businesses, this means it’s crucial to be present on all social media channels and engage with consumers across platforms. Create mobile-friendly ads and payment portals to better meet the needs of younger generations. Technology is advancing at a rapid rate, and businesses need to be one step ahead to be successful.
We may not know exactly what’s in store for us in 2022, but if we’ve learned anything in the past couple of years, it’s that small business owners are resilient and able to adapt quickly. Younger consumers are looking for connection more than ever before, and it all starts with how you choose to appeal to their interests through visuals and technology. When developing your marketing strategies and campaigns for the year ahead, make sure to put these three tips into practice; and when the next big shopping season comes around, you will be one step ahead of the game.
Yara Ohashi is the Head of Digital Marketing, Americas and APAC, iStock.
Photo courtesy tdub303 / iStock