Small businesses need to adopt 2 strategies for the 2020 holidays - Business Insider

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11/28/2020 4:34:00 PM

Small businesses are seeing the biggest shift in how we shop since the Great Depression. Here's how entrepreneurs can reach the morally minded, Instagram-oriented customer.

Business Insider tells the global tech, finance, markets, media, healthcare, and strategy stories you want to know.

.Now that the holiday season is upon us, business owners that have weathered the storm thus far are wondering what moves they should make next. Small Business Saturday — the day afterBlack Friday— typically gives entrepreneurs a leg up on the holiday season. Several business owners told Business Insider they rely on the holiday season for at least 30% of their annual sales.

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It's not so simple this year, and what happens in the last six weeks of 2020 could have major impact on America's economic recovery. Small businesses with fewer than 100 workers account for 98.2% of employers and businesses with fewer than 20 workers account for 89% of employers, according to the

Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), more than 98% percent of all retail companies employ fewer than 50 people. Without a revival on Main Street, the American economy won't right itself any time soon.

Business Insider spoke with economists and business leaders about where small businesses are headed in America's economic future, and they stressed that entrepreneurs will need to examine how their customers' experiences have shaped their buying behaviors — and be prepared to make changes to accommodate them. 

The key takeaways for business owners: Identify and appeal to the value-conscious consumer, and set up as many points-of-sale as possible.The largest shift in consumer values since the Great DepressionThis shopping year is unlike any other.In practice, consumers have adapted their purchasing habits to the times by

shopping online earlierto avoid pandemic-induced shipping delays. The data indicates that culturally, shopping local has become a sign of one's values, humanity, and morality. Seven out of 10 holiday shoppers find it more important to support small businesses than to get a good deal — 43% said they were willing to spend $20 more on an item to support a small business rather than save $20 at a large retailer — according to

by Union Bank and research firm Edelman Intelligence.Many businesses pivoted to sewing and selling masks during the pandemic.Rebecca Cook/ReutersAn anaylsisby communications agency Zeno Group found that the most important values among consumers this year are protecting family, self-reliance, simplicity, honesty, and duty — rather than the sentiments of ambition, experiences, travel, and adventure that have ruled behavior and preferences in years passed.

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Alison DaSilva, the managing director of purpose and impact at Zeno Group, said this shift in American values is unlike any since the Great Depression."They want to have an impact with the decisions that they make when they're shopping — an impact on society, on their family, on the world at large," she said. "This notion of people wanting to use their dollars to have a greater impact and saving small business is very top of mind."

That's good news for entrepreneurs who can find a way to get customers to connect with their purpose or founding story. Leon VanGelder, the VP of small business advertising for music streaming platform Pandora, said that in a survey of 2,000 listeners, more than half of holiday gift-givers planned to shop local. VanGelder pointed to millennials, Gen-Z women, and households with incomes of $100,000 or more as the key groups most likely to shop local.

Consumers want to support small businesses — you just have to meet them where they areGiven the loss, uncertainty, and tragedy that have marked 2020, experts argue that just as one day in the year doesn't define a company's success, one unofficial holiday is no longer the key to making your end-of-year sales. For many, Small Business Saturday is a symbol of the season on which they pin their hopes of meeting revenue goals. 

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