Search Top Local Biz Research Method

October 28, 2011

citygrid-local-business-online-research-methods-oct11.gifWhen it comes to people researching and finding local businesses, search trumps all alternatives, including a merchant’s own website, according to data released in October 2011 by CityGrid Media and Harris Interactive. Results of the 2011 Online Consumer Research Study show nearly six in 10 (59%) US adults say search engines are the first place they go when researching a business online.

In comparison, only 8% of adults say they first visit a merchant’s website, while 4% visit a reviews site. Furthermore, the popularity of search skyrockets with the younger set: 83% of people younger than 35 say search engines are the first place they visit when researching and finding local businesses.

Percentages Closer on Mobile Phones

Study results show consumer behavior changes when people are on the go and need to make a timely decision about where to head. When researching a local business on their mobile phone, adults are nearly as likely to base their decisions on a review site as they are a search engine.

While 17% of adults say they are most likely to base their decision on a search engine when researching a local business or restaurant from their mobile phone, a similar proportion of adults (15%) base their decisions on review sites. The same percentage of mobile users (8%) go to the merchant’s website as do PC users.

“Search has gotten incredibly adept at unearthing and showcasing content from the local reviews sites, so more and more consumers aren’t going past the search results page to get the local information they want,” said Kara Nortman, SVP Publishing at CityGrid Media. “Merchants need to take an active role in how they are being presented online, not only on their own website but within the content on reviews sites that is spidered and served up front and center in those 10 blue links.”

Consumers Don’t Like to Travel Far

When it comes to trying a new local business, study results show people like to stay close to home. The majority of respondents said they will not travel more than 30 miles to try someplace new, but many are willing to exceed the 15 mile mark.

Three out of every five adults (39%) are willing to travel between 15 and 30 miles to try a new local business. However, Only one in every five adults (20%) are willing to travel more than 30 miles; the other 80% won’t make the trek. And nearly one-third (32%) say they would travel less than 15 miles.

e-tailing group: Search Engine Top Starting Point

When asked where an online product research process usually starts, more than four in 10 (44%) start with a search engine and look for top search results relating to the product they desire, according to an August 2011 study from study from the e-tailing group and PowerReviews. Another one in three (33%) start with retailer sites.

One in five (20%) use manufacturer sites. Only a combined 3% start their online product research process with the social media methods of reaching out for Facebook recommendations or posting a question on Twitter.

About the Data: CityGrid Media commissioned Harris Interactive to field this study, which was conducted by telephone between August 24 – 28, 2011 among a nationwide cross section of 1,003 adults, age 18 and older.

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