Consumers may be feeling more confident about the economy, but that isn’t necessarily translating into spending more money. In fact, a new study by Empathica reported in MediaPost found that consumers plan to cut back on discretionary spending (although they will still spend on necessities like gas and groceries).
Why are customers watching their wallets? Although one-third of consumers believe their financial situation will get better in the future, right now 60 percent say it’s worse than it was six months ago, and almost a third say it’s the same.
What do these attitudes mean for small business owners? Empathica reports that cutting prices and offering discounts may be enough to attract new customers, but they won’t necessarily work to keep them coming back. Beyond low prices or one-time deals, Empathica says customers are looking for quality and great service.
These demands will be especially important when the economy does pick up and customers feel more confident about spending. How can you keep customers buying from you?
Loyalty programs are a great way to make customers feel special and also feel like they’re getting something extra.
Showing recognition to your regular customers goes a long way. Many consumers want to patronize local businesses that they feel offer a more personal touch.
Keep customer service standards high by constantly checking in with customers about how you’re doing. This could be anything from chatting with diners in your restaurant to posting a quick survey question on your business’s Facebook page or doing an online survey.
Referrals from satisfied, regular customers are a great way to get new business without having to resort to discounts and price-cutting. Set up a system for requesting and following up on referrals.
Even if the economic recovery continues its rocky trajectory, these tips will put you on the path to keeping customers satisfied and shopping with your small business. Need more ideas for marketing in tough times? The mentors at SCORE have plenty of them. Visit the SCORE website to get matched with a mentor and get free counseling 24/7.