In 2019, the percentage of millennials who said they never used the internet to find local businesses rose to an astonishing 15% (up from just 3% the year before). This is a remarkable change in usage. And this survey was done year-over-year with the same survey group. Why the wild change in usage? It isn't quite clear yet. One possible answer is semantics. It might be how millennials perceive the phrase “use the internet to find local businesses.” It might be that they look at that phrase to meaning only using the web browser rather than other apps, voice controlled smart devices and other similar internet enabled devices. It might also mean that alternatives to directory type listings are being used, like social media recommendations. Also, make sure you are doing what you need to locally to compete with apps like Amazon. To Millennials Amazon is just as “local” with two-day shipping and may be perceived as more convenient then driving to a local business. So, most businesses that are product based need to consider online retailers as their competition. Either way, what a local business owner needs to realize is that young people’s usage is transforming and their perceptions of the best places to get local business information is evolving.
What should a local business do?
- Make sure that your Google My Business listing is on the top of the list and optimized properly. This will help drive traffic from map listings.
- Get more active on social media to get in front of young people and interact with them. Don’t necessarily try to sell them but build community and gain a voice. Also, do hash tag type of campaigns, contests and special offers to build interaction.
- Go where the young people are going. YouTube, Yelp and other outlets can be used to drive traffic back to you website and/or store.