American Express Partners With TikTok As Social Media Drives Small Business Saturday – Forbes

November 23, 2022
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Shopping your values has emerged as a really important gifting trend according Bridget Johns, … [+] co-founder of To&From, who uses social media to target specific shoppers.
Small Business Saturday is celebrating its 13th anniversary with a new partnership announced by American Express AXP AXP and TikTok. Social media continues to be a powerful driver of sales for small businesses. American Express aims to drive $100 billion in reported consumer spending at small businesses from 2021 through 2025.
The new 2022 American Express Shop Small Impact Study showed that reaching the next generation of shoppers via social media has become essential to small businesses. Sixty-three percent of small business owners say they want to focus on growing their Gen Z and Millennial customer base this holiday season.
“Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok, these channels are still highly used by customers, and business leaders realize that. That’s why we see them doubling down their spending in the social media arena this holiday season,” said Gali Arnon, CMO of Fiverr. “Social media-related services on Fiverr have seen increased demand, suggesting that business leaders are eager to tap into these channels to draw in customers and create brand awareness.” Ninety percent of businesses say social media is sacred. Companies have no plans to cut back ad spending in this area for the upcoming holiday season, and 40% plan to increase their spending in this category, according to a nationwide survey of small and medium-sized e-commerce businesses conducted by Fiverr.
During the pandemic, many small business owners turned to social media to connect with their community and customers. “We went heavy on Instagram and worked to form a connection with the customer, which we have loved continuing to do,” said Ann Cantrell, retail store owner of Annie’s Blue Ribbon General Store. The retail store in Brooklyn, New York, uses videos, personalized content, and community-oriented posts, not just posts about products. “American Express has been such a great supporter of small businesses, and partnering with TikTok is a home run. I am super excited to be a part of that program.”
Cantrell discussed how social media, particularly Instagram, has been great for her business. “Instagram Stories have been very active for us. We just had a $500 sale from a customer in London who was coming to NYC to visit family, and the whole transaction was from Instagram.” Cantrell discussed how social media creates a real connection with her customer base and said, “I think they hear and see my authentic voice there, and that’s what works. It’s one of my favorite parts of the business.”
As the owner of Annie’s Blue Ribbon General Store in Brooklyn, NY, Ann Cantrell uses Instagram to … [+] connect with the community and her customers. Photo credit Christy Joehl
To&From launched this June as a gifting business and has successfully used social media to drive revenue and community engagement. The gifting market is estimated at $800 billion (excluding corporate gifting), according to co-founder of To&From, Bridget Johns, but has not evolved as much as other retail areas. “The problem is knowing what gifts to buy and remembering to buy them,” said Johns. Solving this problem was the inspiration behind the brand. The use of social media marketing has been very successful, but the challenge is to find the right audience. “For example, we’ve seen a good return from investing in Facebook groups with a specific audience and gift theme. One example is a custom gift list for hockey players. It’s performed very well with targeted ads and in a hockey moms group,” stated Johns.
Shoppers this year will be more surgical about holiday shopping and will look for value at various price points. “We are optimistic for Holiday 2022 and have thoughtfully curated a wide range of price points for customers to choose from, depending on what they are looking to spend. Customers are worried about inflationary prices this year, but Cantrell believes you can have a good time in her store for $20 and a really good time for $200; the key is to have a wide range of price points to meet the needs of many shoppers.
Cantrell discussed how shoppers are more committed to buying this year when they see something they need. “Whether it’s a birthday present for their friend’s kid or a gift for a co-worker. When they see something they like, they go for it knowing it may not be available later.” Shoppers are more intentional with the stores they shop at and the products they purchase. Johns agrees, stating, “I think people will still spend this holiday, and much of the research shows that the expectation will be flat to up, but I suspect that spending will be much more intentional.”
“Consumers are leaning into their values, and how they are voting with their wallets has stood out to me,” said Johns. “We attribute all of our gifts on several dimensions, but outside of relationship/occasion filters, social values is the most used filter on our site.” Trends on the To&From site show that people love finding brands that support their interests, like female-owned businesses, BIPOC-founded companies, or companies with sustainability as a core value.
Trending gifts fall into three categories: gifts that support the values the gifter or giftee cares about, gifts that have a personalization aspect, and gifts for together time. “I think the past couple of Covid years have taught many of us that we actually like spending time with our families, so gifts that reinforce together time have been trending at To&From,” said Johns.
“We expect inflationary pressures alongside slowing global growth to weigh on discretionary e-commerce spending, which could continue to be pressured in 2023,” said Dan Schulman, President and CEO of PayPal , in a recent earnings call. “I think that seeing more retailers offer sales more frequently is a telltale sign that consumers are looking for deals, discounts, and other ways to save on purchases. These sales, which have been frequent since October, are a clear testament to the fact that consumers are trying to manage high prices, which are tightening their wallets and ability to spend,” said PayPal VP of Shopping Greg Lisiewski. PayPal recently rolled out its rewards program to help consumers save money in time for the holiday season
Business leaders are aware of the potential negative impact that inflation, the economic downturn, and supply chain disruptions could have on their business this season, according to the Fiverr small and medium-sized business survey. The findings show that more than 1 in 3 business leaders (36%) said the economic downturn and inflation’s impact on sales would be among the most significant challenges they anticipate their businesses will encounter this holiday season, along with competition from larger e-commerce retailers (37%).
The American Express study showed that 72% of small business owners are concerned about the impact of inflation on their businesses this year. The owners say the current economy makes competing with larger format retailers harder. Small Business Saturday on November 26 is an excellent opportunity for owners to connect with their customers and communities (#ShopSmall Accelerator).

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