New Brandify Survey Reveals Consumer Habits in Local Search

Brandify has released the results of its Local Search Consumer Survey, a new study that examines the range of digital tools consumers use to search for local businesses. The study finds that consumers, when presented with a choice, favor a range of tools, with Google Maps out in front of the pack but several others receiving a meaningful share of consumer attention. 

Consumers were asked to name the tools they’ve used in the last 30 days to find information about businesses nearby. Though a vast majority of 77% named Google Maps over any other tool, there was a significant “second tier” group including Facebook at 38%, Yelp at 35%, and business websites at 32%.

The study also asked consumers about the frequency of searches, the range of businesses for which they searched, preferred devices, and the likelihood of visiting a business after searching.

Select Findings

  • 77% of consumers report using Google Maps when searching for nearby businesses.
  • Facebook, Yelp, and the business’ own website are used by 32% to 38% of consumers for local searches.
  • A significant minority of consumers, from 13% to 19%, use Google Assistant / Google Home, Instagram, Apple Maps, Waze, and in-car navigation for local searches.
  • When given a choice, 49% of consumers name a tool other than Google Maps as the most useful for local search.
  • 74% of consumers conduct local searches at least once a week.
  • 84% of consumers have searched online for a restaurant in the last 30 days, 52% for a retail store, and 33% for a doctor or medical facility.
  • 81% of consumers prefer to use a smartphone for local search.
  • Consumers consider hours of operation and basic contact information to be the most critical data points in listings, followed by reviews and links to the business website.
  • 56% of consumers say they are likely to visit a business in person after searching, and 54% say they are likely to visit right away or on the same day.

Search Tool Preferences

Judging by the responses in the survey, consumers use a range of tools to conduct local searches. Google Maps is by far the most frequently cited tool, but consumers also use other tools on a regular basis, with Facebook, Yelp, and the business website mentioned most often, followed by a broad mix of tools used with varying degrees of frequency. Notably, 23% of respondents did not choose Google Maps from the available options, even though they were free to select multiple answers.

Among the free-text responses in the “other” category was a range of specialty and niche tools including DuckDuckGo, BBB, Glassdoor, Garmin, TripAdvisor, HappyCow, and FindMeGlutenFree, suggesting that the range of tools with meaningful market share may be even broader than these results indicate. 

Frequency of Local Searches

The survey asked respondents to identify how often they conduct local searches. Consistent with trends noted elsewhere, we found that most consumers conduct local searches frequently. We also found that frequency appears to correlate with age, where younger consumers conduct local searches more frequently than older consumers.

The most popular answer across all age groups was “multiple times a week” at 35%, followed by “multiple times a day” at 18%. Overall, 74% of respondents indicated they conduct local searches at least once a week. Among consumers aged 18 to 29, that number jumps to 90%, whereas only 56% of consumers aged 60 or older reported the same frequency.

Searches by Business Type

Consumers conduct searches for a very broad range of local business categories, according to the results of the survey. Asked to identify the types of businesses they searched for online in the last 30 days, a remarkable 84% of consumers indicated they searched for restaurants, the most popular category, with retail stores ranked second at 52%.

But several business categories were selected by a significant number of consumers, with thirteen different business categories chosen by at least 10% of respondents. Responses in the “other” category indicated many other types of businesses for which consumers are searching as well, including assisted living facilities, dispensaries, pet clinics, pet supply and grooming, dry cleaners, and parks.

Data Points Consumers Want to See

Another important finding relates to the data consumers seek out when they are looking at business listings. Asked to choose the three pieces of information they consider most important, consumers spoke loud and clear about their preferences, with a full 70% saying hours of operation are important, followed by basic contact information like name, address, and phone number at 67%, and reviews from other consumers at 46%. A large number of respondents voted for several other data points, such as links to the business website at 39%, business description at 26%, and photos at 22%.

Conclusion

We were especially curious in conducting this survey to find out about consumers’ perceptions of their own search behavior. Though self-reporting may not always be perfectly accurate, it can help to reveal how consumers think about search. The results of the study clearly show that consumers are aware of using a range of tools and searching for a broad variety of businesses. 

You can download the full report at the Brandify website. For a deep dive into the results of the study, join us for the webinar “Understanding Consumer Habits in Local Search” on December 12. We’ll also be diving into some additional findings in follow-up posts on Street Fight in the coming days.

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Damian Rollison writes the Streets Ahead column for Street Fight. He is VP of product strategy at Brandify, and can be reached via Twitter at @damianrollison. Brandify is the publisher of Street Fight.
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