December 14, 2011

Where People Get Information about Restaurants and Local Businesses

People looking for information about local restaurants and other businesses say they rely on the internet, especially search engines, ahead of any other source.

Newspapers, both printed copies and the websites of newspaper companies, run second behind the internet as the source that people rely on for news and information about local businesses, including restaurants and bars.

And word of mouth, particularly among non-internet users, is also an important source of information about local businesses.

Some 55% of adults say they get news and information about local restaurants, bars, and clubs.  When they seek such information, here are the sources they say they rely on most:

  • 51% turn to the internet, including:
    • search engines – 38% rely on them
    • specialty websites – 17% rely on them
    • social media – 3% rely on social networking sites or Twitter[1]
  • 31% rely on newspapers, including
    • printed copies – 26% rely on them
    • newspaper websites – 5% rely on them
  • 23% rely on word of mouth
  • 8% rely on local TV, either broadcasts or websites

Some 60% of adults say they get news and information about local businesses other than restaurants and bars. When they do:

  • 47% say they rely most on the internet, including:
    • search engines – 36% rely on them
    • specialty websites – 16% rely on them
    • social media – 1% rely on social network sites or Twitter
  • 30% rely most on newspapers, including:
    • printed newspapers – 29% rely most on that
    • newspaper websites – 2% rely on them
  • 22% rely on word of mouth from family and friends
  • 8% rely on local TV, either broadcasts or the websites of local stations
  • 5% rely on local radio

People who seek out information and news about local businesses and restaurants are a diverse and somewhat upscale group. As distinct populations, they are more likely to live in relatively well-off households – those earning $75,000 or more – and have college educations.

In addition, the 55% of adults who get information about restaurants, bars, and clubs are more likely to be women, young adults, urban, and technology adopters.

The 60% of adults who get information about other local businesses are also more likely to be tech users.

Background on this report

Together, these subjects are among the most popular of 16 local topics explored in a national survey by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism and Internet & American Life Project, produced in association with the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The survey probed how people learn about their communities in a new way, asking about specific subjects and discovered that people use a complex range of different sources.

Last September, we issued an overview report on this survey called “How people learn about their local community.” In broad terms, it covered on the sources that people rely on for news and information about their communities on a host of different topics.

This report offers a more in-depth examination of two closely-related topics that were part of that survey. It expands on that earlier work by 1) looking at the people who get information about local businesses and restaurants; 2) looking at all the sources they use; and 3) examining which sources of information are most relied upon by which people.

The survey was conducted on January 12-25, 2011. In the part of the survey that dealt with those who get information about local businesses and restaurants, 1,087 adults (age 18 and older) were interviewed by landline and cell phones, in English and Spanish. The margin of error for the full sample is 3.3 percentage points. For the subpopulation of people who say they get information about restaurants, bars, and clubs the number of respondents (which we label as “n”) is 592 and the margin of error for that sample is 4.4 percentage points. For the group who get information about local businesses other than restaurants, bars, and clubs is 667 and the margin of error for that sample is 4.2 percentage points.


FOOTNOTE

[1] The figures for these sources listed in the bullets sometimes exceed the total because respondents were allowed to give multiple responses.