Skip to main content

Survey Reveals the Impact of User-Generated Review Sites on Dining Decisions

Angelsmith recently released the results of a survey of more than 500 people to find out how they influence the dining decisions of others and in turn how their personal restaurant choices are made. The findings revealed that even though nearly half (48.9 percent) of survey respondents seek information from trusted friends first, more than eight of 10 (80.1 percent) respondents go on to do additional research after receiving a restaurant recommendation.
The survey revealed that in most cases word of mouth doesn’t work independently, but is supplemented with additional research on consumer generated review sites, blogs and restaurant websites. Respondents were asked to rank the most important places they use for additional restaurant research after receiving a recommendation from a trusted friend. User generated review sites (27.7 percent) and the restaurant’s website (27.0 percent) were in a near tie as the most important places consumers turn. Other friends (25.2 percent) and food blogs (16.4 percent) were ranked as the second most important places for additional restaurant research. Rounding out the top rankings, Google search was cited by 16.5 percent as the 3rd most important place for those who do additional research.

The survey also asked respondents how often they dined out (including breakfast, lunch, dinner and drinks) on the assumption that more frequent diners might prove to be more influential. Most (52 percent) of the survey respondents reported dining out between 2 – 4 times per week. Thirty percent of respondents reported dining out 5-10 times per week followed by 13.8 percent who dine only one time per week, and 4 percent who reported eating outside of the home more than 10 times per week.  
However, regardless of dining frequency, nearly 8 out of 10 (79.5 percent) of survey respondents reported influencing their friends, family, and co-workers. This is an eye-opening statistic which demonstrates that given the opportunity, just about anyone exerts significant enough influence on dining decisions in their social groups to move their friends, family and co-workers through to a purchase.
The survey, however, did uncover a subset of highly influential diners who are relied upon to make much more active recommendations. This subset of 15.3 percent of respondents, reported that they were ‘always asked’ for restaurant recommendations from friends. Everyone in this subset reported influencing their friends’ dining decisions and nearly 97 percent reported being actively sought for restaurant recommendations.
The commonality between these diners is that they report above average consumption of both newspaper and blog reviews and content. 52.5 percent of all respondents reported that they frequently read the dining section of their local newspaper and 70.4 percent of those with higher levels of influence reported reading the paper. There was an even greater divide for blog readership, 68.1 percent was the overall reported rate while 92.9 percent was reported from those who are ‘always asked’ for dining recommendations.
While would-be diners still turn to some friends and associates more than others, the survey demonstrates that the circle of people who might impact dining choices is significantly larger than previously believed.
Outside of personal word of mouth recommendations, the channels that consumer’s relied on most were user-generated review sites, such as YELP; the restaurant’s own website, and blogs.
When ask what most influenced a dining decision, a restaurant’s website was listed in 5th place (5.2 percent) just ahead of Food Network shows (1.7 percent) and Google Search (4.4 percent). But, when consumers go on to do additional research after they receive a recommendation from a trusted friend, the website is one of the top places visited for validating a dining decision. The restaurant’s website can be a persuasive tool that can make or break a potential diner’s decision to try a new place.
Traditional media, which used to be incredibly influential in the dining space, has lost ground to digital channels. Newspaper reporters were listed by only 7.6 percent of respondents as being the most influential when making a dining decision, lagging behind food bloggers (9.4 percent).

This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds