UK consumers happier to shop with smaller operators than large brands

Over 80 per cent of British consumers report feelings of happiness and contentment when they purchase goods or services from small and independent businesses, compared to just 53 per cent who buy from large chains, research finds.

Only 6 per cent of UK adults consider CEOs of large corporations to be ‘trustworthy’, while small business owners have been described as hard-working (75 per cent) and honest (31 per cent), according to a study by Avery WePrint.

The services that British consumers prefer to get from a small business rather than a large corporation or chain are haircuts (47 per cent), restaurant meals (41 per cent), fresh produce (38 per cent), takeaway coffee (36 per cent) and card and gifts (31 per cent).

Some 58 per cent of Britons say they have experienced poor customer service at the hands of a large chain, with the complaints of corporations including ‘unpleasant or rude staff’ (60 per cent), ‘being ignored or forgotten about’ (53 per cent), and ‘impersonal service’ (53 per cent).

Fiona Mills of Avery WePrint says that businesses of all sizes can learn from one another, and what’s important as a business grows is not to lose sight of the values and service levels that were there in the beginning.

‘Customers say they feel valued by small companies and that’s something every business should be trying to emulate,’ she adds.

‘For example, a personalised service is part of what makes small businesses so popular, so it’s important for companies to take every opportunity to show that they care about their customers’ individual needs.’

Potential customers are quick to judge, meaning a company’s product packaging, business cards and overall presentation has to look the part and communicate high standards, Mills adds.

The importance of using both digital and traditional communication methods to reach customers is stressed.

‘Lastly, it is worth spending a little time and effort on marketing and branding in the early stages of business, it’s important to develop a brand that can evolve naturally as a business grows.’

Further reading on small businesses and competition

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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