Don't count out the Yellow Pages just yet. The print and online Yellow Pages are still the most trusted information source for consumers shopping locally, even though use of the print pages has declined, new research shows. But print still has power; print Yellow Pages and white pages still outrank search engines in terms of trust, accuracy and ease of use.
The study, which was conducted by research firm Burke on behalf of the Local Search Association (formerly the Yellow Pages Association), found that consumers use Yellow Pages and search engines most to find local businesses, outpacing other local media including social networks, magazines, newspapers and promotional circulars/emails.
Among local media, consumers consult two to three sources when looking for information to buy a product or service locally.
More than 8 out of 10 people used either print or Internet Yellow Pages to find a local business in the last year and more than three-quarters used a search engine. Though search engine usage moved slightly ahead last year, reaching 76 percent of consumers, 74 percent of U.S. adults used a print Yellow Pages directory to find a local business. Nearly 8 in 10 print Yellow Page lookups resulted in a purchase or purchase intent.
"These results indicate that as media habits continue to evolve, consumers are relying on a growing spectrum of platforms to search for local civic and business information," said Marc Rysman, associate professor of economics at Boston University. "Local businesses today will need marketing strategies that reach consumers wherever they search – whether it's in the print Yellow Pages, search engines or other local media."
While the usage of print Yellow Pages has declined as local media information has become available in more places, U.S. consumers still look up information in a print directory billions of times per year. In 2010, consumers generated 11 billion references to print Yellow pages. The digital marketing research firm comScore found that Internet Yellow Pages generated 5.6 billion searches in 2010.
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