Street Fight Study: 33% Search Daily for Local Businesses via Mobile

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Local search and discovery is quickly becoming one of the most routine and ubiquitous activities for the local consumer, according to a new “Consumer Insights Report” released by Street Fight and YP at Street Fight Summit West today. Nearly 90% of consumers surveyed reported searching for a local business on a PC, tablet, or mobile device within the last week — and over 30% said they do so on a daily basis.

PC-based search led in most every category, but mobile came in a close second in important verticals like restaurant and dining as well as entertainment, and leads PC in transportation-related searches. What’s striking is that the tablet is taking a big chunk of the market share as well: 34% of respondents said they search for local businesses via tablet on a daily basis. Meanwhile, 33% said they searched for local information daily via mobile devices like smartphones.

“It’s important to note that there are two trends emerging here,” said Rohan Chandran, director of mobile at YP. “Firstly, we are searching in mobile situations – on the street and on the go. Secondly, we are doing a lot of our searching, even when at home, on our mobile devices. So it’s important to ensure that solutions are tailored for different combinations of form factor and use case.”

The results reiterate much of what we’ve seen in other industry studies — namely, that consumers are accessing local information, everything from hours of operation to reviews to listings and directions, from a variety of sources on a routine and regular basis. However the report points to a far more complex and dynamic use of local information as well that varies across device, context, and type of business.

“There is probably no more frequently performed activity than local search,” says Dr. Phil Hendrix of immr, who collected and analyzed data from 1,144 local consumers (including 891 smartphone users) for YP and Street Fight. “There are a wide range of sources that are available to consumers, particularly in the discovery phase, and many of those are being driven by not only conventional search options but social media as well. “

The study found that the way in which consumers identified what was “local” varied according to key segments like a businesses vertical. While 55% of consumers reported traveling less than ten minutes for a grocery store, over 60% said they would travel over 20 minutes for a live performances. As attitudes shift, so does the relevancy of information. A consumer searching for a coffee shop 10 miles away may have less intent than one looking up a venue 25 miles away.

“The notion of a trading catchment area is a decades long concept — really understanding where your customers come from — and it’s important to know where your business falls,” said Hendrix. “When you think about advertising, and particularly location-based advertising, going forward, this notion of a trading or catchment area, is going to be critical.”

Hendrix also said that the study found substantial variation in consumer behavior based on contextual indicators like whether consumers were traveling compared to being around work or home. “When consumers are in an unfamiliar location, the incidence or likelihood of search in those situations is even higher,” he explained. “Though the frequency [of traveling] is less, local search becomes indispensable in these situations.”

The key takeaway here is that consumer behavior around location is not static. Relevancy and intent, which drive value for both the consumer and advertising ends of the local search and discovery business, depend on a handful of indicators, and brands and businesses need to understand and customize strategies around these behaviors.

Steven Jacobs is an associate editor at Street Fight.