Why Small Businesses Can Compete in the Global Market

With the internet acting as a platform for information sharing globally, brand transparency is no longer an option – it’s a necessity.

A consumer-driven movement towards locally and ethically sourced products across numerous industries has swept the world. This represents a shift towards especially valuing brand transparency and company honesty, and the internet has facilitated the ease with which the public can demand answers.

As consumers, we want to know what we’re buying and who we’re buying from. We want to support companies that uphold our own values, and we even want to experience relationships with these companies.

We want to give our neighbourhood underdog the chance to succeed.

With big and small brands alike now competing in the same virtual arena, the most truthful and transparent ones often end up having the advantage.

“The modernization of information and communication processes [have] become the driving force of social evolution” – Martin Hilbert, University of Southern California, 2015

Our ability to communicate with one another is arguably at the best it’s ever been, as the internet has made our informational communities global. We live in a time unlike any other in history as social media and other internet-enabled platforms continue to expand.

We each carry a tiny computer in our pocket, allowing us the freedom to instantaneously fact check anything, including what kind of a reputation a particular business has. Wikipedia is a case in point; the reliability of the site is often tested and proven as accurate due to constant monitoring by the users.

Consumer choices are powerful.

Millennials are quickly becoming business’ target consumer group and according to Forbes, this group considers ‘self, society, and planet’ when making purchasing decisions. The freedom of available information has also made us more aware of the social issues our consumption choices affect.

Scandals can no longer be easily covered up by companies. For example, when accused of paying ‘slave wages,’ Nike came out with a publication documenting the abuse within their factories and made positive changes to their business practices. They saw the benefit of admitting their wrongdoing, regained public trust through transparency, and are still operating today – by the grace of the customers

Social change through consumerism is possible.

As consumers, we decide where to put our money, which gives us a powerful position. Change can be created with just small choices, like going to a locally owned gym like Vancouver’s Tight Club. The choice to support the members of your community instead of a faceless corporation increases personal engagement in an info and tech age. Not surprisingly, it also addresses the ‘self and society’ tiers of Millennial consumption choice.

Locally sourced industries also have a smaller carbon footprint – this addresses the third tier: planet. The further food and goods are transported, the higher the ‘food miles’ are, resulting in a larger negative environmental impact.

Prevailer Michela Byl and her partner Quinn Palmer are helping minimize Vancouver’s carbon footprint with their cocktail mixer company, Rootside Provisions. After watching entire bottles of ginger beer and tonic being wasted in bars and restaurants, the couple decided to make their own premium product with minimal waste. Paired with a taste that consumers enthusiastically respond to, they’ve come up with a recipe for success while remaining environmentally and socially responsible.

Local small businesses can compete with – and defeat – giant corporations.

Trust is no longer something that we, as millennials, consumers, and business owners ourselves give without consideration; and that’s not a bad thing. If a company wants our business, we demand they prove themselves in aligning with our values and delivering on promises, and we have the tools to substantiate – or discredit – their claims and actions. When participating in capitalism and consumerism there is still room to consider merit, creativity and responsibility.

Whether our primary concerns are personal, environmental or societal – like fair wages or community engagement – the internet has encouraged companies to be more transparent; in turn, this allows us to be more informed and to have increased autonomy in our choices and actions on a daily basis. In today’s modern world, there’s no excuse to choose unwisely.

Colleen Christison