Street Fight Poll: Word-of-Mouth Is Primary Driver of Local Business

A new StrePie graphet Fight poll finds that even with a slew of new locally targeted marketing platforms at local merchants’ disposal, word-of-mouth is still a primary driver of local consumer behavior.

The poll of 500 U.S. consumers found that 43% of consumers are most likely to shop or dine at a local business after a recommendation from a friend or colleague. 30% are primarily motivated by daily deals, 15% after seeing a locally or behaviorally targeted advertisement, and 12% after reading a positive review about the merchant online. The poll was conducted on behalf of Street Fight by third-party opinions platform Toluna QuickSurveys.

Breaking down our results by age, the crucial 18-34 demographic is even more likely (50%) to allow word of mouth to drive their purchases than their older counterparts. They’re also slightly more likely (31%) to be influenced by daily deals, but much less likely to visit particular businesses after reading a positive review (6%). Another notable difference lies in gender — females (47%) are more than 10% more likely to shop somewhere due to a recommendation from a friend or colleague than their male peers (37%).

The results are a positive sign for the deals space, which has seen its business model come into question less than a year after industry giant Groupon‘s highly successful IPO. A study conducted this summer by digital SMB marketer Constant Contact and research firm Chadwick Martin Bailey found that 58% of consumers didn’t equate even a positive deals experience to future customer loyalty. But that criticism has at least somewhat cooled; BIA/Kelsey released a forecast last month that projected an 87% increase in consumer deals spending in 2012 over 2011. The forecast projects consumer spending in the space to reach $5.5 billion by 2016.

By contrast, with all the hype around the reviews space this year following Yelp‘s successful IPO and subsequent growth, the results illustrate a surprisingly minimal reliance on customer reviews, at least on review sites. A separate Street Fight poll last month concluded that 93% of consumers (and 98% of those 18-34) at least sometimes check business reviews online before dining or shopping.

But above all else, the results indicate that word-of-mouth still rules. Even with all the 21st century marketing tools at a local merchant’s disposal, it’s the recommendation of a friend or colleague that is most likely to let drive their purchases.

Patrick Duprey is an editorial assistant with Street Fight. You can email him at, or follow him on Twitter @PatrickJDuprey.