Amex Brings Back Business Class Live to Support Small Business – WWD

With a potential US recession looming after years of economic hurdles, small businesses are continuing to persevere — and according to data from American Express, stay confident through it all.

Positively, the pandemic fostered a great deal of support from consumers who showed a commitment to supporting small businesses, which is even more important since this shopping can be hugely beneficial to both the local and national economies. Amex’s 2022 Shop Small Summer survey found that nine out of 10 consumers say they are likely to shop small this summer, either in their community (88 percent) or the local area while traveling (83 percent).

Moreover, the company’s data shows that shopping small can help inject $793 billion into the national economy this summer.

Still, there are a lot of challenges facing small business owners today. More than three-quarters (76 percent) of small business owners say that inflation is a great concern for their business this summer and are relying heavily on their local communities.

Considering inflation, Clayton Ruebensaal, executive vice president, global business-to-business marketing at American Express, said, “Setting themselves up for success with the right tools and resources is key. According to our recent Small Business Recovery Report, 40 percent of small business owners feel the need to have more cash management tools and tips and 74 percent are concerned about needing to future-proof their business. But they are a resilient bunch, staying confident even as economic concerns loom. There has been a growing focus on continuing to adjust for inflation, competing through branding and marketing, and for some prioritizing online sales.”

Notably, support for these businesses comes in waves. Sixty-three percent of owners say the size of their local small community has decreased since the pandemic, however, there’s evidence that local customers are rising to the occasion to show their support with 71 percent of small business owners saying they have seen an increase in local shoppers in the past year, compared to 2021.

Overwhelmingly small business owners told Amex that summer activity could be tremendously impactful for summer business. More than 68 percent of owners say their small business experiences an increase in customers when a live event is happening in the local area and 85 percent of small business owners say they are hopeful for the success of local businesses in their community this summer thanks to the returns of live events and activities.

To support small businesses this summer, American Express is bringing back its Business Class Live conference for a 10th installation of the program. The event will be held at the Jacob K. Javits Center in New York City on July 20 and will be completely free to attend in person or virtually.

The goal of the event, Ruebensaal told WWD, is to support the small business community with this first-class, free, daylong experience.

“We continue to hear from small business owners about the importance of making connections, building a community and getting smart on the things that matter for growth,” Ruebensaal said. “The event provides a great opportunity to create long-term relationships, gain insights to grow and establish a trusted network to rely on well past the event. It will give small businesses the chance to be matched with government agencies or large corporations in one-on-one meetings to discuss real, tangible business opportunities that can open the door for them in meaningful ways.”

Panels and workshops will be held during the event with experts on cash flow management, marketing strategies, contracting opportunities and workplace wellness for small business owners from all over the country. Attendees will hear from speakers including Issa Rae, Jay Shetty, Hannah Bronfman, Adam Grant, Maria Dueñas Jacobs and Lo Bosworth, among others.


American Express Business Class Live, 2019.

“We aim to help businesses do more business,” Ruebensaal said. “They trust American Express and want to hear from us, based on the work we’ve done over the years with Small Business Saturday. When the pandemic hit, we knew we needed to help as small businesses were facing unchartered challenges and had more questions than answers, so the way we showed up needed to also evolve. We built Business Class to answer the most pressing questions small business owners had. It’s an innovative, global offering redefining what business education means, bringing lifestyle-like content and experiences to small business owners, all available at no cost, aiming to democratize the information needed most.”

Other Shop Small events this summer includes SiriusXM’s Small Stage Series, presented by American Express, where the companies are banding together to make it the summer of supporting local, small-owned businesses by hosting musical artists of all genres at small venues across the country. Kicking it all off will be an intimate performance for SiriusXM subscribers to take place at The House of X at Public on July 28.

Additionally, Amex will be introducing geo-specific QR codes that will direct consumers to nearby summer businesses that are featured in the new “Let’s Go Shop Small” creative for summer. Consumers can scan the QR code and be provided with relevant businesses and directions from American Express’ Shop Small map. The campaign will be live in seven markets including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco, Denver and more throughout the summer months.

“American Express has a long history of powerfully backing small businesses,” said Marianne Rausch, vice president, Small Business Saturday and Shop Small, global advertising and brand management at American Express. “Our global Shop Small and Small Business Saturday initiatives are core to who we are as a company. These initiatives, among others, support efforts to drive $100 billion in consumer spending at small businesses through 2025, and reinforces our commitment to back our customers, small businesses and their communities globally.”

Registration for the American Express Business Class Live event is open now.


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