To reiterate, market research is an integral part of your public relations or marketing campaign.

In the case of American Express, it was market research into consumers, in asking the right questions, that led to a discovery and a PR Campaign that helped themselves and small businesses across the nation.

American Express and Small Business Saturday

In 2010, American Express debuted Small Business Saturday, a shopping holiday held the Saturday after Thanksgiving, one of the busiest shopping periods of the year. They offer $25 in credit to 200,000 cardholders and provide small businesses with tools to promote themselves. In 2019, this campaign partnered with the 10th annual Small Business Saturday® to bring attention to the challenges and hardships small businesses face, as well as the positive impact that shopping small has on local communities. And the campaign has seen continued success, largely because American Express utilized market research. In their case, the Shop Small® Consumer ImpactSurvey and the 2018 Small Business Economic Impact Study. Through this research, they uncovered some very significant information about consumers’ attitudes toward small businesses they otherwise would have never known.

“To say that we misread our audience would be something of an understatement. JOTO PR looked into our situation and discovered that customers weren’t seeing as the reputable company that our industry peers saw – because as weren’t putting ourselves into the right media. Their market research found what outlets our prospects were reading and watching and we targeted our press to them. We’re seeing our social media being shared and our reputation for industry leadership is growing fast.”

– JOTO Client

For one, a large majority of consumers, about 74%, believed that empty storefronts were a national issue. An even larger majority believed that empty storefronts and small, independent business closing had a negative impact of their local community.

But perhaps most intriguing was a discovery about their potential behavior: about 75% of consumers said they would more likely buy from local businesses when they knew that about $0.67 of every dollar spent at a local business stayed in the local community.

These revelations helped bolster an already long-term campaign, bringing together a number of organizations with similar goals including Shop Small, a nationwide movement that celebrates small businesses and Main Street America, which helps revitalize older and historic commercial districts.

Now in its tenth year and to expand their efforts to help local economies, American Express is further supporting small businesses year-round by recognizing card member’s spending at small merchants.

American Express did something that their industry certainly wasn’t previously known for – they proved that a national credit card company can do good at the local level – and they were the ones leading the charge. They changed consumers’ and businesses’ perceptions, so much so that unrelated organizations partnered with them on a common goal that continues to grow beyond its original intent.

American Express owes their success in large part to their market research turning an already successful campaign into a multi-partner effort that now sees them as the credit card company that understands the importance of local businesses and cares about their impact on local communities.