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97% of Consumers Use Online Media to Shop Locally!

2010 March 10

97% is a big number!  So big a number that if you are a local merchant and you don’t have a Social Media presence, it’s gonna hurt.

According to BIA/Kelsey‘s ( and User View Wave VII, an ongoing consumer tracking study conducted with research partner ConStat, nearly every consumer (97%) uses online media when researching local products and services.


And their search isn’t limited to just one site.  While consumers aren’t as apt as they were in the past to let their fingers do the walking, consumers are using 7.9 different media sources when shopping for products or services in their local area.  90 percent use search engines, 48 percent use Internet Yellow Pages, 24 percent use vertical sites, and 42 percent use comparison shopping sites.

Here are a few more statistics to ponder:

According to the study, 58 percent of respondents report using an online coupon when shopping for products or services in their local area in the past year, and 19 percent of respondents report making an appointment online in the past six months for a service other than a restaurant reservation (e.g., business appointment, health-care appointment, auto service or personal service such as a beauty shop).

What does this mean for local businesses and local media?

According to Peter Krasilovsky, VP and former program director of Marketplaces, BIA/Kelsey,

The increase in audience fragmentation presents challenges for advertisers looking to connect with local consumers.  These challenges may be outweighed by the targeting opportunities available with tools like walgreens coupons promotions and appointment scheduling, the latter being among the best lead sources possible, since you know where people are actually going.

But let’s not neglect other important sites like Facebook and Twitter where consumers are talking about you and your product whether you participate in those discussions or not.  And peer review sites like Yelp, Foursquare, Angie’s List, and a very long list of other websites make it easy for consumers to share information.  Real information about service, company ethics, product quality etc.  In fact, you can even find reviews of the review sites, like this gem “Why Angie’s List Sucks!”

Now, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t advertise on traditional media.  Local radio, TV and Newspapers may be hurting, but they are far from dead.  And they can help your business move forward.  What I am saying is that if your Social Media plan continues to be not having a Social Media plan, then prepare to have your lunch eaten by your competitors, some of whom aren’t even currently on your radar.

Monitor the Social Media space.  Listen to the conversations.  Engage with those who sing your praises online and those who are very publicly talking dirt about you and your products & services.

Re-tool your website to make it more than a static brochure.  Your website isn’t about you, it’s about your customers needs and how you can help them achieve their desired results.  Focus your efforts on creating great content that will answer consumers’ questions when they search online.  Engage with customers where they already congregate.

97% is a huge number.  But on the other hand, if after reading this post you still aren’t interested in Social Media, no worries.  You’ll have ample access to the remaining 3%.

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