Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Topical Post:- Do online restaurant reviews have an impact on consumer decision making?

A while ago I saw a post on Twitter by @mattyosull who was researching restauranteurs opinions of online reviews. Given that I review restaurants and post the reviews to my blog I naturally was very interested in this. I contacted Matthew and asked him could I see the results of the survey once completed and he said I could. He also informed me that he had done a survey targeting consumers in an attempt to ascertain how online reviews impact consumer decision making and he forwarded me the results. Matthew is Dublin based and I'm presuming most people who took the survey were Irish, but I believe that the results are probably indicative of any big city.

After reviewing the results of Matthew's survey I contacted him with a few questions and in particular I wanted to know what was the background or reason to the survey. Matthew stated that he loves to eat out and he uses online review sites to research restaurants before he goes to them. He said he found some reviews questionable and coupled with the increasing media coverage about online review sites getting into trouble for not doing enough to combat fake reviews he started to think wouldn't it be great if there was an online review site that only showed verified reviews?

So what did Matthew's research show?

  • 67.3% of those surveyed use online review sites to research restaurants before attending;
  • of that figure 92.9% say that an online reviews has a lot of influence or some influence on the restaurant that they choose to go to; 
  • 75.7% said the authenticity of the online review was something they considered;
  • 80% said negative reviews are more likely to make them avoid going to a restaurant with 92.9% saying that positive reviews are more likely going to make them go to a restaurant;
  • 20% said they avoided going to a restaurant because they thought the online reviews were fake;
  • 58.6% of people felt that online review sites could do more to verify the authenticity of the people who write online reviews and 38.6% responded by saying they weren't sure;
  • 85.7% of people said they would prefer to read restaurant reviews on a site that only showed verified reviews from real customers, and
  • 87.1% said that reading verified restaurant reviews would give them more confidence in choosing what restaurants to go to.
Matthew asked other questions that I didn't cover here so if you would like to see the actual results please contact me on emma@emmaeats.co.uk or if you would like to get in touch with Matthew drop me a mail and I was forward on his contact details.

So what do I make of this research?

When I was living in Dublin I would never have relied on the big international online resources - I would have initially used menupages.ie. However, in latter years I relied mainly on social media and word of mouth. As I lived and worked in the city centre it was always easy to spot the new restaurants. When I first started coming over to Glasgow I automatically went to food bloggers or an online review site with regular contributors to see what was hot and what was not in Glasgow. I feel that having looked through a bloggers page you can see how passionate they are about food and how authentic they are. But I'm a big foodie and I would give hours and hours a day just checking out what places I should eat in, which means I don't mind spending time on bloggers pages. However, it would appear that more and more people are relying on recommendations from the bigger online resources - I suppose it may be easier to find the top ten restaurants in a given location and read a shorter synopsis of a review.

However, it is very interesting to see the increased reliance on online review sites on where to eat! I am particularly looking forward to seeing the outcome of Matthews research into restauranteurs views on online reviewers - so far I have had a mixed bag of reactions (even to good reviews not just the bad ones).

Watch this space ...

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