Main Street Momentum: Canadians continuing to shop local as small businesses innovate to stay competitive: RBC Poll

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Support for small businesses remains strong despite challenging economic conditions, and entrepreneurs are eager to meet Canadians where they are by innovating in ways that align with today’s consumer needs and expectations.

A recent RBC survey of Canadian consumers and small business owners reveals that Canadians currently spend 30 per cent of their budget at small businesses. Sixty-five per cent of Canadians polled and 70 per cent of millennials report that they have transacted with a small business in-person or online within the last month. Moreover, seven-in-ten (70 per cent) Canadians polled plan to spend more at local small businesses in the future.

“Canadians are continuing to show their local businesses love, but there’s no doubt that these small businesses are facing increasing supply chain and economic pressures, and a more competitive market,” says Don Ludlow, Vice-President of Small Business, Partnerships & Strategy, RBC. “As Canadian entrepreneurs and business owners look to adapt to this evolving environment, we wanted to share critical insights around what’s important to consumers today, so that they can continue to attract customers, win business and grow their enterprises into 2022 and beyond.”

Driving purchasing decisions: what’s important to Canadian consumers?

When polled, Canadians revealed a number of factors that would positively influence them to shop or support a business. Encouragingly, many small business owners surveyed reported that they were already prioritizing these same preferences within their own business strategies and operations. These factors include:

  • Sustainability: 74 per cent of Canadian consumers report that they would like to see businesses seek out and offer environmentally sustainable options, with this number rising to 80 per cent among women. Business owners were aligned, with 72 per cent reporting that the implementation of more sustainable goods, processes and services was a priority to them.
  • Social responsibility and diversity: Many Canadians are actively seeking out and supporting 2SLGBTQ+ (49 per cent) and BIPOC-owned (60 per cent) businesses, products and services. In fact, 66 per cent of Canadians also stated that consuming and conducting business in a socially responsible way will play a bigger role in influencing their purchasing and business decisions in the next 12 months.
  • Innovation: To stay competitive and on top of consumer trends, 72 per cent of consumers say that small businesses should invest in product and service innovation – a sentiment shared by 76 per cent of business owners. The poll also reveals 57 per cent of consumers and 60 per cent of business owners see it as important that small businesses explore the metaverse for new ways to view and purchase products and services, while 70 per cent and 67 per cent respectively believed that rethinking product design such as packaging and signage could help businesses cut costs and attract customers amid rising inflation.
  • Digital solutions: 70 per cent of consumers stated that it was important that small businesses offer digital payments and other online solutions, such as e-commerce or shipping. Meanwhile, the same number (70 per cent) of business owners agreed that they would seek to invest in such solutions in order to improve client convenience and experience.
  • Diversification: New challenges bring new opportunities and 73 per cent of consumers believe that product, service and channel diversification would help small businesses compete in light of inflation and market pressures. Similarly, 70 per cent of business owners agreed that diversifying its range of products and services, or channels of delivery, will be critical to their competitiveness.
Helping entrepreneurs start, manage and grow their business

RBC helps make it easier for Canadian entrepreneurs to start, manage and grow their business by offering its business clients valuable solutions that help them save time and money as they manage their day-to-day operations and adapt to the current environment. Solutions offered by RBC and its collaborative partners include:

  • Ownr – A business of RBC Ventures Inc., Ownr is a digital platform that enables Canadian entrepreneurs to start, manage, and grow their business by simplifying and automating business formation and everyday legal and administrative work.
  • Moneris Online – An integrated bundle of e-Commerce, online payment and shipping solutions to help entrepreneurs quickly and effectively build and manage their online business.
  • RBC Insight Edge™ for Small Business – Winner of Aite Group’s 2020 Innovation Impact Awardthis dashboard solution for retail business subscribers provides real-time data insights around customer trends, competitive benchmarks and market intelligence to support business decisions.
  • Sherweb – A leader in cloud solutions and the latest partner to join RBC’s Go Digital™ program. Sherweb offers RBC business clients exclusive advice and solutions to support their adoption of cloud-based innovations and technologies to improve productivity, security and digital transformation.
  • Kobalt.io – A leading cybersecurity services provider enabling small and mid-sized businesses to access cybersecurity expertise and solutions to protect their business and customers in an increasingly digitally-enabled world.

Entrepreneurs can access these solutions and business advice online through the RBC Small Business Navigator at rbc.com/navigator.