Eat or Be Eaten: A Look at Cultural Equity in Small Business Success by College Campuses

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2021-05

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Bender, Dane

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"What operations, tactics, and strategies that successful small businesses perform produce the most effective and persistent Cultural Equity among new cycles of student populations?" In this paper I will focus on retail and restaurant locations from the intersection of MLK Boulevard and Guadalupe Street to the intersection of Rio Grande Street and 29th Street. For small businesses, this operating environment has immense foot traffic from the 50,000+ students on UT Austin’s campus. Students spend only a few years on campus and then move away, so businesses are presented with a unique challenge of customer churn. Assuming that small businesses do not benefit from pre-existing brand awareness and customer interest that larger chains do among new student populations, word of mouth marketing comes at a premium, minimizing the cost of customer acquisition. Through survey analyses I have found that firms that have survived for a lengthy period in this environment tend to have some measure of Cultural Equity. Here, Cultural Equity for a small business is defined as a composite score of brand awareness percentage, net promoter score, and the likelihood that a customer would take an out-of-town friend to a business’ location. Cultural Equity represents the degree to which a small business is known, recommended by customers, and is shared with out-of-town friends; it is a measure of word of mouth marketing and customer advocacy. In this paper, I focus on understanding how a firm might cultivate Cultural Equity.

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