Not so long-ago chambers of commerce were viewed by some as socializing bodies where business people come together to network. Although still a valuable networking venue, our Chamber has always strived to be much more for our members. This past year has shown stark examples where we advocated for businesses (particularly through the Five Star Program), promoted economic and community development and forged new partnerships for workforce development. The impact of our Chamber on “the business side of business” however has often been overlooked. Among these positive impacts are increased consumer confidence and patronage both of which are critical to business success.
The Shapiro Group, an Atlanta based research firm surveyed 2,000 Americans about three years ago and found that chamber membership causes consumers to see a business in a more positive light and increases the likelihood that they will shop or purchase services from chamber member businesses. Although these figures vary slightly amongst size of organization and industry sector, the fact remains that businesses that are members of their local chamber garner greater consumer credibility, trust, and loyalty than those that are not affiliated with the local chamber of commerce.
But being a member was just the start. The study also found that the greater the level of involvement of the company in the local chamber (i.e. serving on the board, sponsoring events, etc.) the greater the benefits. A company that is highly involved with its local chamber is perceived favorably by consumers and they are 10 percent more likely to think that its products stack up better against its competition and 19 percent are more likely to think favorably of the company in general.
The Shapiro study revealed that there is a distinct correlation between chamber membership and a company’s bottom line. Whether in the area of patronage frequency, favorability, or purchase intent, consumers tendencies lean heavily toward involved chamber members. Let’s look at a snapshot of the results. Relative to working with chamber members, consumers state they are:
- 36 percent more likely to think favorably of insurance companies
- 49 percent more likely to think favorably of small business and 80 percent more
likely to purchase goods or services from the company in the future
- 68 percent more likely to eat at a franchise restaurant
Small business is the backbone of America and the bulk of chamber memberships. If a person knows that a small business is a member of the local chamber, the business will see a 49 percent increase in consumer favorability ratings, a 51 percent increase in consumer awareness, and an eighty percent (80%) increase in the likelihood of patronage.
This month we celebrate the businesses to choose to invest in our Chamber and their businesses by partnering with us to build a strong economy.