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Small Business Success in 2024: Cities that Champion Diversity & Consumer Insights

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Small and diverse businesses are an important part of American communities, making it essential to keep a finger on the pulse of what makes them thrive. So, what factors propel these businesses forward, and where in the U.S. are people supporting small and minority-owned businesses the most?

We analyzed online search trends and surveyed American shoppers to find out. Our results reveal the trends, behaviors, and preferences that shape small business support in 2024 and beyond and offer tips for fostering prosperous business ventures.

Key takeaways

  • The top U.S. cities supporting small businesses are Atlanta, Minneapolis, and Miami.
  • The top U.S. cities supporting minority-owned businesses are Atlanta, Minneapolis, and Baltimore.
  • Overall, 78% of Americans regularly shop at small businesses.
  • Regular small business shoppers spend an average of $128 per month at small businesses.
  • 64% of Americans are actively seeking to support local businesses.

Summary/Overview

Cities supporting minority business diversity

Which major U.S. cities champion diversity in business ownership the most? The first part of our study examines the cities where searches for minority-owned businesses have been highest in the past year. But first, let’s start with an overview of who searched for small businesses the most among the 50 most populated U.S. cities.

Atlanta was the top U.S. city supporting small businesses, based on search volume per 100,000 residents. Following closely were Minneapolis and Miami, showcasing a strong interest in local shopping in these cities.

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Tampa, Baltimore, and Denver also ranked high, suggesting their commitment to small business ecosystems. This data reflects a nationwide trend of consumers seeking out small businesses, emphasizing the critical role of these establishments in local communities. By choosing small businesses, consumers directly contribute to their local economies, ensuring that their spending supports local employment, fosters community development, and circulates money within their own neighborhoods.

Atlanta took the lead again as the city in supporting minority-owned businesses, as indicated by online search volume, specifically looking for businesses owned by women, Black, Latino, Asian, and LGBTQ+ people. Minneapolis and Baltimore followed, showing interest in diverse business ownership across these demographics.

Minneapolis and Atlanta consistently appeared across all of these ownership categories, making them hubs for inclusive economic activity. This trend across major U.S. cities reflects their acknowledgment of the value and necessity of small business diversity.

Who supports small businesses the most?

Certain products stood out for attracting more consumer dollars toward small business offerings. In this section, we’ll uncover small business shoppers’ purchasing preferences and priorities.

Most Americans supported small businesses, with 78% regularly shopping at these establishments. Groceries topped the list for the items they purchase most often from small businesses, with 65% of Americans saying they do so regularly. Similarly, bakery goods (53%) and beverages (41%) were also in the top three. Overall, customers have spent an average of $128 per month supporting small businesses, with millennials ($135) and men ($130) spending the most monthly.

Baby boomers most often supported small businesses in the automotive services sector, while Gen Xers opted more for beauty products. Millennials leaned more toward art over other small business product categories, and Gen Z’s favorite was clothing. Women tended toward jewelry sold by small businesses, while men favored beverages — possibly reflecting the recent craft distilling boom.

As for dollar amounts spent, furniture led the way in capturing the most consumer spending supporting small businesses. This echoes a recently increased interest in buying vintage and antique furniture among sustainability-minded consumers who want to reduce waste and support small, independent businesses.

Here’s the full top 10 breakdown of the small business sectors where consumers said they spend the most:

  1. Furniture
  2. Groceries
  3. Automotive repair and maintenance services
  4. Fitness services
  5. Clothing
  6. Pet care products
  7. Eco-friendly products
  8. Home decor
  9. Beverages
  10. Beauty products

These spending patterns not only highlight the most sought-after products in small businesses but also shed light on the values and lifestyles of the customers.

How America shops small

Now, let’s examine small business shoppers’ behaviors and their preferences when shopping online.

Nearly a third of women (30%) said they actively seek to support women-owned businesses. Gen Zers were the most active supporters of small businesses owned by people across the most demographics: 29% said they support women-owned businesses, 27% said minority-owned businesses in general, and 24% said businesses owned by LGBTQ+ people. Our findings also reflect Americans’ love of local businesses: 64% of our respondents said they actively seek to support businesses local to them.

As for where and how Americans shop small, 51% preferred to do so in brick-and-mortar stores instead of online. Still, a strong digital presence is also vital: 31% of shoppers said they had decided against supporting a small business due to their lack of a website.

Digitally native Gen Zers led this trend, with two in five choosing not to shop at a store without an online marketplace. Gen Z was also the generation least likely to prefer shopping in person, while baby boomers were the most likely to prefer shopping this way.

Consumers discover small businesses in many ways, and word-of-mouth is the best method — many Americans we surveyed have found out about a small business through a friend or family member. These were the first and third most common responses, but online reviews came in at number two, indicating a similar importance of honest customer feedback in helping prospective customers make informed buying decisions.

Here are the top 10 ways people discover small businesses, according to our survey:

  1. Friends
  2. Online reviews
  3. Family
  4. Community events
  5. Facebook
  6. Instagram
  7. Local newspaper ads
  8. Local news station
  9. TikTok
  10. YouTube

Since Facebook was the top social media platform Americans found small businesses on, creating Facebook ads may be a great way for small businesses to try out social media advertising. Instagram was another common way for consumers to discover small businesses. Instagram Reels, in particular, are ideal for netting new followers. These short videos entertain users by showing them content primarily from accounts they aren’t already following.

Nearly two in five small business shoppers said they think it’s important for a small business to have an Instagram Shop and a TikTok Shop. If you’re a small business not already selling on TikTok, it’s easy to get started by making TikTok videos. As for Instagram, a good place to start is by making an Instagram logo for your business.

Embracing diversity in small business

Diversity and digital accessibility can be important in boosting small business success. It may be easier for small business owners, especially those from minority groups, to capture consumer interest in Atlanta, Minneapolis, and Miami, where business ownership diversity and shopping small thrive. Moreover, with the youngest consumer generation’s penchant for online shopping, having a strong digital presence will be an absolute must, particularly if you’re aiming to connect with Gen Z. These findings offer practical insights for small business owners, empowering them to tap into support from their local communities and thrive in today’s diverse digital markets.

Source: Adobe