Introducing your products to a new demographic not only helps your business grow but also provides an opportunity to share your culture with new customers. You can keep your small business authentic to your culture while still inviting new customers to experience what you have to offer.
It’s no secret that the past two years have been tough on everyone. Communities of all sizes and backgrounds face their own hardships, and businesses that are struggling to get by are often hit hardest. Small businesses in tight-knit communities often rely on their neighbors to keep their stores up and running. This is a challenge in communities that are facing record numbers in unemployment, not to mention those who are ineligible for assistance.
One of the perks of living in a community with a strong ethnic background is that your local stores will often carry items that immigrants might find back in their home country. Many Hispanic owned small businesses rely on the surrounding Hispanic community to purchase their specialized inventory. The supply and demand work together to create stable businesses that foster a space that celebrates their culture. This is great for parents who want their kids to be able to grow up eating and drinking the same foods and snacks they had growing up. Keeping up with tradition is important, especially in the Hispanic community.
While all of this is positive and shouldn’t be forgotten, it’s important to understand that certain economic changes will require small businesses to make changes of their own. During times of economic hardship, small businesses especially have to make tough decisions to keep their workers employed and their storefronts open. If a business simply isn’t making enough to break even or make a worthwhile profit, it’s time to evaluate its options.
One of the best ways businesses can prepare for the unexpected is to increase their reach by expanding their customer base. Inviting new customers to try your goods and services will allow your products to reach an entirely new demographic and contribute to keeping your business alive.
A Narrow Customer Base Doesn’t Guarantee Sustainability
While having a narrow customer base is something that benefits the community, it isn’t always the best business decision. This is especially true considering the way the pandemic has affected different communities. If an unexpected event occurs that alters the buying power of the area residents, it’s a no-brainer that surrounding small businesses will feel that economic effect as well.
According to recent studies by the Pew Research Center, Latinos faced sky-rocketing unemployment rates as well as drastic pay cuts during the COVID-19 pandemic. Their findings show that 49% of Hispanic households faced job loss.
Even if other members of the household can contribute to making ends meet, the buying behavior of at least 49% of households is sure to change in one way or another. Whether a family places less importance on snacks and more on toiletries, the overall volume of purchases will most likely decrease according to the above statistics.
Not surprisingly, the pandemic had a significant effect on Hispanic adults without green cards. While some Latino residents were able to receive government aid, those without proper documentation likely felt the loss twice as hard. If you think about it, this is almost like losing two customers. Not only did this person lose their job and source of income, but without permanent resident status, they likely won’t receive any government assistance, taking away any chance of them having the ability to support your small business.
The Pew Research Center study also explains how over two-thirds of Latinos surveyed claimed to have sent money or resources to family members or charities. This can range anywhere from someone sending money to family members overseas who might not have access to modern medical care to donating money to a local charitable organization. Overall, spending priorities changed drastically in the Hispanic community. In order to make sure your business survives such trying times, you need to make sure your products are addressing the needs of a broader community.
The Benefits of Expanding Your Customer Base
There are many different reasons to expand your business, but the most obvious one is profit. No matter what product or service you offer, the more customers you can satisfy, the more money you’re guaranteed to make. During life-changing times like these, it’s important to make sure you are ready to pivot your business in a direction that will keep it alive and thriving.
One of the easiest ways to expand your customer base is to make sure your inventory is competitive with other stores in the area. If you tend to stick to items that are only known in the Hispanic community, try offering products that will also appeal to the broader population. Chances are that even your Latino customers will appreciate this variety of choices.
If you aren’t sure where to begin, start by researching the areas surrounding your business and the preferences of those who live there. The best place to start is with everyday items that make people feel at home. For example, if you discover that there is a prominent Irish population nearby, you can start to include imported items that are typical of Irish or UK markets. In addition to culture-specific items, you can expand your inventory to include stock that customers would expect to find in any typical market or convenience store.
In conclusion, it’s hard to come up with reasons not to expand your customer base beyond the Hispanic community. You can keep your small business authentic to your culture while still inviting new customers to experience what you have to offer. At the end of the day, you need to keep your doors open for your benefit, as well as your employees. Your loyal customers will also be there for you as soon as they regain their buying power.