In 2010, American Express introduced Small Business Saturday to encourage consumers to start their holiday shopping at local small businesses. The shopping holiday quickly gained popularity, and in 2011, the U.S. Senate officially recognized Small Business Saturday as the Saturday after Thanksgiving, positioning it between the big-box and digital retail standards Black Friday and Cyber Monday.
Small Business Saturday Facebook Post
American Express successfully branded the holiday as its own, and even five years later, the firm continues to play an important role in the success of this shopping day. The firm raises awareness with news releases and year-round posts on the Small Business Saturday Facebook page. Small business owners can download free event guides with unique ideas for attracting customers and order other free marketing materials like balloons, doormats and posters, courtesy of American Express.
In 2013, the firm introduced the Neighborhood Champions program to the Small Business Saturday prep, to rally businesses and communities for one of small businesses’ busiest days of the year. Lisette Bernstein, the American Express Vice President of Small Business Saturday, said in a 2014 Forbes article that the firm’s goal is to foster a sense of community that supports local shops and organizations. “We’re working closely with local partners, like the Chambers of Commerce, to help amplify these events.” In that inaugural year, more than 1,450 Neighborhood Champions pledged their commitment to support Small Business Saturday.
Excerpt from the American Express Shop Small Website
The National Federation of Independent Business now conducts an annual Small Business Saturday Consumer Insight Survey to collect information on the logistics and economic impact of the day. Small Business Saturday grew to 88 million consumers, 14.1 million more than in 2012. From 2012 to 2013 there was a 3.6% increase in revenue from customers who intentionally shopped on Small Business Saturday. In 2014, shoppers spent $14.3 billion at small businesses, with the average consumer spending $162.
While the other firms in the Corporate Insight Small Business Card Monitor or Credit Card Monitor coverage groups have yet to bring any attention to the day, some firms are contributing something of their own to the health of small businesses. In a press release, Wells Fargo announced the launch of the $75 million, three-year Wells Fargo Works for Small Business: Diverse Community Capital program to benefit community development financial institutions. U.S. Bank launched VantagePoint, an online asset management platform integrating multiple payment types into one centralized portal, in support of small businesses. The massively successful branding of Small Business Saturday by American Express, though, sets the bar for other firms hoping to take part in the enhanced sense of community and social engagement that shopping small provides by bolstering local economies and creating new job opportunities.
Wells Fargo, U.S. Bank and American Express are also leaders in public educational resource centers according to the November 2015 Corporate Insight Small Business Card Monitor report. The three firms all use a microsite for presenting materials on their educational platforms: Wells Fargo Works for Small Businesses, U.S. Bank Connect and American Express OPEN Forum. These centers stand out for their extensive variety of topics, superior branding and social media presence. However, American Express’ commitment to small businesses with Small Business Saturday sets them above Wells Fargo and U.S. Bank.
American Express initiated a positive shift for small businesses by founding Small Business Saturday. What started as a single day out of the year with the hashtag #SmallBusinessSaturday has become a movement, taking on the more general hashtag #ShopSmall, encouraging the support of local small businesses year-round.