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Small Business Trends for Growth & Success in 2024

As we journey into 2024, the ever-changing business landscape calls for small businesses to keep pace with emerging small business trends to foster growth and success. In this piece, we’ll dive into five pivotal trends set to shape the small business realm in the coming year and beyond.

From the heightened emphasis on sustainability to the enduring charm of supporting local businesses, we’ll dissect small business statistics and offer actionable insights tailored to empower entrepreneurs. Let’s explore how these trends can fuel growth and enhance your business strategy in today’s rapidly evolving small business landscape.

1. Go Green: Championing Sustainability in Business

Sustainability remains firmly in the spotlight, capturing the attention of both consumers and businesses. With an increasing focus on sustainability priorities and heightened environmental consciousness, customers are gravitating towards businesses prioritising eco-friendly practices.

A 2023 study conducted by NZ Post shed light on the attitudes and behaviours of Kiwi shoppers, revealing that nearly half (44%) of consumers are willing to pay more for products and services from environmentally responsible companies.

Furthermore, Consumer NZ’s Sentiment Tracker data revealed that almost 85% of New Zealanders are expected to maintain or increase their focus on putting the environment and sustainability first when making purchasing decisions.

In light of these findings, small businesses can seize the opportunity to embrace sustainable practices across their operations. By sourcing locally and environmentally friendly products, minimising waste and implementing eco-friendly measures, businesses can resonate with consumer values, attracting new customers and fostering long-term loyalty and trust.

2. Embracing Digital-First Strategies and the AI Evolution

Get ready to navigate the digital realm and explore the growing possibilities of AI in 2024! As digital technology advances, having a strong online presence is more important than ever for small businesses. Investing in digital marketing strategies can help reach and engage with your target audience effectively. This includes leveraging social media platforms, optimising websites for mobile devices and implementing targeted advertising campaigns.

Did you know almost 90% of Kiwis use social media? Social media reigns supreme as a way for the majority (64%) of Kiwis to learn about new brands and products. Short-form video content continues to grow in appeal to the digital audience as platforms like YouTube shorts, Instagram reels and TikTok dominate in popularity. Unsurprisingly, this material is also prioritised by social media algorithms encouraging brand awareness.

Moreover, with the NZ smartphone penetration expected to reach 74% by 2028, mobile optimisation emerges as a critical strategy for online success. Ensuring online storefronts are mobile-friendly is paramount, given Google’s love for mobile-responsive websites in search rankings. Tactics such as SMS marketing and location-based targeting on Google offer effective avenues for connecting with potential customers.

The adoption of AI for tasks such as creative writing, administration, and customer service is slowly gaining popularity among New Zealand businesses; however, a large portion (65%) of NZ businesses have yet to adopt AI into the workplace. Despite AI not being widely utilised yet, it’s interesting that those using it are seeing a positive impact on their business, with only 2% stating that it’s been a negative experience for them.

3. Crafting Personalised Customer Experiences

It’s becoming a world of personalised experiences where data and technology are emerging as powerful tools in delivering personalised products, services, and marketing messages that resonate with your target audience.

Personalisation is vital for effective marketing. Customers want tailored experiences based on their preferences and behaviours. Data is crucial for this, offering insights from customer interactions.

Studies show many customers (61%) switch brands for better experiences, and about half (51%) feel frustrated when departments don’t share information, leading to disconnected experiences. Trust is key, as is maintaining consistency across touchpoints, as 71% of customers lose trust due to inconsistencies. Additionally, 48% lose trust with irrelevant communications.

Personalisation drives brand loyalty as well! A Google and Storyline Strategies study revealed that 72% of consumers are more likely to be loyal to a brand if they receive a personalised experience with additional rewards and benefits.

By embracing data-driven strategies and prioritising customer satisfaction, businesses can cultivate strong customer relationships, driving loyalty and repeat business in the year ahead. Government-backed initiatives like Digital Boost are a completely free government-funded tool to help Kiwi businesses learn and implement the latest digital marketing strategies in their businesses.

4. The Power of Shopping Local

New Zealand is a bustling hub of small and micro-businesses. Did you know that businesses with fewer than 20 employees make up a whopping 97% of all firms in the country? Despite their modest size, they’re no small players in the economy, contributing to 29.3% of employment and over a quarter of New Zealand’s GDP. These local heroes are the backbone of the economy.

Fueled by initiatives like “Buy Kiwi” and “#ShopLocal” (by Retail NZ) that continue to champion small businesses nationwide, more Kiwis are embracing the sentiment of shopping locally like never before. More than half of Kiwis always or often purchase local products and services, whether in-store or online.

Furthermore, thanks to the growth in flexible work arrangements, Kiwis are rediscovering the magic of local communities, fueling the ‘shop local’ movement like never before.

For small businesses, this presents a golden opportunity to shine! To thrive in this environment, small businesses can leverage this trend by increasing their visibility in local communities and adapting their practices to target remote workers.

5. Being Prepared for Volatility

In recent years, Kiwi businesses have weathered storms caused by everything from the pandemic to natural disasters and global upheaval. While these have presented challenges, these can also be used as an opportunity to become more resilient for continued growth and success.

A key lesson here is to build a rock-solid supply chain strategy. This includes taking a good look at your current suppliers, strengthening your relationships with suppliers that have been steady in the past and having backups in case of emergencies. It’s also a good idea to look at better sourcing costs; a more competitive supplier can boost your bottom line and give you peace of mind in times of uncertainty.

Embracing a forward-thinking approach to supply chain management is essential for sustaining operations and fostering long-term growth.

As we wrap up our exploration of the small business trends shaping 2024, one thing’s for sure: adaptability is the name of the game. From the power of shopping local to the necessity of supply chain resilience, these trends underscore the importance of staying nimble in today’s ever-changing business landscape.

So, what’s the key takeaway? It’s all about embracing innovation and seizing opportunities. By staying ahead of the curve and being open to new ideas, small businesses can not only survive but thrive in the face of uncertainty. Here’s to a future filled with growth, success and endless possibilities!

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