New research revealed that nearly three quarters (72%) of UK consumers want the government to do more to back the growth of smaller, independent retailers.
According to a YouGov poll of GB consumers, 42% said they would consider shopping with an independent retailer because they prefer to support smaller operations over a larger retailer.
In addition, the research, which was commissioned by marketing automaton suite Pure 360, found that more than one in 5 shoppers said they like to compare price and product offerings between larger retail brands and independents, before going on to make the final purchase from the smaller retailer.
The surge in support for independent retailers seems to be due, in part, to the customer service these consumers believe they will receive. Nearly half of respondents said they would consider shopping with an independent over a larger retailer because they are treated like a valued customer rather than just a number.
In a similar vein, 39% of consumers favour independents because of the personalised experience they receive, whilst the same proportion of respondents like them because they offer a different range of products to larger retailers.
The research also revealed an increased awareness of smaller retail operations, with 63% of consumers saying they have heard of new independent retailers in past 12 months. For 39% of respondents, they have been introduced to these retailers by friends and family, followed by 20% discovering them through social media advertising.
Despite this, just 22% of British consumers currently opt to go to an independent retailer in the first instance to seek out an item, indicating that there is still work to be done if they are going to win against the high street giants.
According to 44% of respondents, the main area for improvement for independent retailers is offering better value for money. This is followed by enabling consumers to shop in a way that best suits them, through offering online and offline (43%), making themselves more widely known through advertising and marketing (29%) and providing better delivery options (22%).
Pure 360 marketing director Komal Helyer said: “We’re witnessing the immergence of a real David versus Goliath story within the retail industry, which consumers are clearly getting behind. Independents offer a niche product set, a more personalised experience and crucially, can adapt quickly to the changing needs and situations of a consumer. For many larger brands this level of agility is insurmountable, making them look outdated and disconnected, which is leading to closures and collapse that is being reported increasingly.
“For independents, there is a significant opportunity to serve a real purpose in the lives of consumers, if they understand what is achievable and the technologies available to do so. With the right technological support brands can leverage data to demonstrate relevance, usefulness and offer a personalised experienced at every stage of the customer journey, enabling them to win the battle.”