December 14, 2011

Where people get information about restaurants and other local businesses

Where people get information about restaurants and other local businesses

People looking for information about local restaurants and other businesses say they rely on the internet, especially search engines, ahead of any other source.

Newspapers, both printed copies and the websites of newspaper companies, run second behind the internet as the source that people rely on for news and information about local businesses, including restaurants and bars.

And word of mouth, particularly among non-internet users, is also an important source of information about local businesses. 

Some 55% of adults say they get news and information about local restaurants, bars, and clubs.  When they seek such information, here are the sources they say they rely on most:

· 51% turn to the internet, including:

      o   search engines – 38% rely on them
          o   specialty websites – 17% rely on them
          o   social media – 3% rely on social networking sites or Twitter1

· 31% rely on newspapers, including

      o   printed copies – 26% rely on them
          o   newspaper websites – 5% rely on them

· 23% rely on word of mouth

· 8% rely on local TV, either broadcasts or websites

Some 60% of adults say they get news and information about local businesses other than restaurants and bars. When they do:

· 47% say they rely most on the internet, including:

      o    search engines – 36% rely on them
          o   specialty websites – 16% rely on them
          o   social media – 1% rely on social network sites or Twitter

· 30% rely most on newspapers, including:

      o   printed newspapers – 29% rely most on that
          o   newspaper websites – 2% rely on them

· 22% rely on word of mouth from family and friends

· 8% rely on local TV, either broadcasts or the websites of local stations

·  5% rely on local radio

People who seek out information and news about local businesses and restaurants are a diverse and somewhat upscale group. As distinct populations, they are more likely to live in relatively well-off households – those earning $75,000 or more – and have college educations.

In addition, the 55% of adults who get information about restaurants, bars, and clubs are more likely to be women, young adults, urban, and technology adopters.

The 60% of adults who get information about other local businesses are also more likely to be tech users.

Background on this report

Together, these subjects are among the most popular of 16 local topics explored in a national survey by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism and Internet & American Life Project, produced in association with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The survey probed how people learn about their communities in a new way, asking about specific subjects and discovered that people use a complex range of different sources.

Last September, we issued an overview report on this survey called “How people learn about their local community.” In broad terms, it covered on the sources that people rely on for news and information about their communities on a host of different topics.

This report offers a more in-depth examination of two closely-related topics that were part of that survey. It expands on that earlier work by 1) looking at the people who get information about local businesses and restaurants; 2) looking at all the sources they use; and 3) examining which sources of information are most relied upon by which people.

The survey was conducted on January 12-25, 2011. In the part of the survey that dealt with those who get information about local businesses and restaurants, 1,087 adults (age 18 and older) were interviewed by landline and cell phones, in English and Spanish. The margin of error for the full sample is 3.3 percentage points. For the subpopulation of people who say they get information about restaurants, bars, and clubs the number of respondents (which we label as “n”) is 592 and the margin of error for that sample is 4.4 percentage points. For the group who get information about local businesses other than restaurants, bars, and clubs is 667 and the margin of error for that sample is 4.2 percentage points.

Who gets information about local restaurants, bars, and clubs

We asked separately about restaurants, bars, and clubs versus other local businesses because we thought entertainment establishments such eateries and bars were a distinct category of local business that might draw a different audience and might show different patterns of information seeking. That proved to be the case.

The 55% of all adults who get information about restaurants, bars, and clubs are disproportionately young, female, tech adaptive and upscale in educational attainment, urban.

Who gets information about local restaurants, bars, and clubs

Those who get news and information about local restaurants, bars, and clubs are also likely to be avid local news consumers who enjoy following the local scene, pay for local news in some form, and use multiple platforms to get the local information. 

Those who are heavy local news junkies are considerably more likely than others to get material about local restaurants. We asked people about their use of 14 different kinds of sources to get local news and their frequency of using those platforms.2 When it comes to restaurant information, 71% of those who used at least six platforms monthly got news and information about local restaurants, compared with 34% of those who relied on just one or two sources.  

Additionally, we asked people if they got local news and information their cell phones, and 47% of all adults said they did.3 These mobile consumers, who were younger and more upscale in terms of their household income and educational levels, were even more likely than others to get material about local restaurants: 62% of mobile local news consumers got information about local businesses, compared with 48% of others.

The platforms people use to get information about local restaurants, bars, and clubs

We asked the 55% of adults who said they got information about local restaurants what sources they relied on for such information.

  • Internet : 51% of those who get information about local entertainment businesses rely most on some kind of online source for that material.
  • Newspaper : 31% of them say they rely on newspaper material either in printed form or the website of their local newspaper for information about restaurants, bars, and clubs
  • Word of mouth: 23% of them say they rely on other people most of all for news and information about for information about restaurants, bars, and clubs
  • Local TV: 8% of them say they rely on TV for news about for information about restaurants, bars, and clubs – either broadcasts or the stations’ websites

The sources that people rely on to get news and information about local businesses (other than restaurants, bars, and clubs)

When it comes to getting information about local restaurants, bars, and clubs 12% of the respondents in this category cited other sources beyond the main categories that we used.4 These answers were not specifically recorded, but might have included such things as advertising messaging via such things as billboards, signs, or phone directories; stranger recommendations; observations of foot traffic to stores; and general awareness of the local scene that didn’t arise from any particular information source.

  1. The figures for these sources listed in the bullets sometimes exceed the total because respondents were allowed to give multiple responses.
  2. numoffset=”2″ The list of sources was: 1) print version of local newspaper; 2) website of local newspaper; 3) local TV broadcasts; 4) website of local TV station; 5) local radio; 6) website of local radio station; 7) other websites that are dedicated to their communities; 8) blogs about their community; 9) people and organizations that respondents follow on social networking sites; 10) people and organizations that respondents follow on Twitter; 11) email newsletters and listservs; 12) printed newsletters; 13) word of mouth from friends; 14) search engines.
  3. “How mobile devices are changing community information systems” March 14, 2011. Available at: http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2011/Local-mobile-news.aspx
  4. We asked this as an open-ended question allowing respondents to declare whatever sources they felt they relied upon most. We created these categories for their answers and everything else was coded as an “other” source: 1) local print newspaper; 2) local newspaper website; 3) local TV news broadcast; 4) local TV station website; 5) radio (AM/FM or satellite); 6) local government website; 7) other website (not a print or TV news organization site or government site, includes national sites that offer local information, such as weather.com, craigslist, or patch.com); 8) internet search engine/search portal; 9) social networking site (such as Facebook or MySpace) or Twitter; 10) mobile phone “app”; 11) mobile phone email or text alert; 12) mobile phone: non-specific (includes search internet on phone); 13) call local government office; 14) word of mouth/friends and family; 15) print news bulletin/newsletter.