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pew-research-sources-for-information-on-local-businesses-dec11.gif47% of adults who get news and information about local businesses other than restaurants and bars say they rely on the internet to do so, ahead of print newspapers (29%), word of mouth (22%), local TV (8%), local radio (5%), printed newsletters (4%), and mobile phones (1%), according to [download page] a December 2011 report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project. Search engines (36%) were the top internet research method, ahead of other websites such as topical specialty sites (16%), and social networking sites or Twitter (1%). The report notes that figures may exceed totals because respondents were allowed to give multiple answers.

Data released in October 2011 by CityGrid Media and Harris Interactive also found search to trump all other local business research methods: 59% of US adults reported search engines to be the first place they go when researching a business online, ahead of a merchant’s website (8%) and a reviews site (4%).

Younger Set Relies More on Search

Data from Pew’s report, “Where people get information about restaurants and other local businesses,” indicates that a number of groups are more likely than the general population to rely on search engines for local business research, including respondents aged 18-39, parents with minor children, urban and suburban residents, those who have lived in their community less than 5 years, and those who do not pay for local news content. The CityGrid Media and Harris Interactive report also found the popularity of search to skyrocket with the younger set: 83% of people younger than 35 said search engines were the first place they visit when researching and finding local businesses (see link above.)

By contrast, the groups Pew found most likely to use print newspaper to research local businesses were those aged over 40 (especially those over age 65), rural residents, those who have lived in their community more than 5 years, those who enjoy getting local news and avidly follow it, and those who pay for local news content.

Online Channel Even More Important For Local Entertainment

Of respondents receiving information on local entertainment businesses, 51% rely on some kind of internet source for that material, ahead of print newspaper (36%), local TV (7%), local radio (3%), printed newsletter (3%), and mobile phone (2%). Search was once again the top online research method, employed by 38% of these respondents, ahead of other websites such as topical specialty sites (17%). Social networking sites or Twitter, while still at very minor usage, appeared to be more used for local entertainment businesses than others (3% vs. 1%).

The demographic breakdown of search engine and print newspaper users for local entertainment businesses matched the breakdown for researchers of other local businesses.

Younger Crowd Prefers Entertainment Info

The 55% of all adults who get information about restaurants, bars, and clubs appear to be disproportionately young (65% of those aged 18-29), female (59%), and upscale (60% of those over $75,000 in household income). By contrast, the 60% of adults who get information about local businesses other than entertainment locales are not distinct by gender, but do tend to be older: 64% of those aged 50-65 report getting this information, compared to 52% of those aged 18-29.

About the Data: The Pew survey was conducted January 12-25, 2011, among a sample of 1,015 adults aged 18 and older. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish, by landline and cell phone.

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