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

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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 [email protected], or follow him on Twitter @PatrickJDuprey.