13 Age-specific You Can Serve Local Business Review Preferences

Today, we’ll delve deeper into some of the data from The Impact of Local company Reviews on Consumer Behavior | SEO Industry Report to learn more about customer preferences by age group regarding local company reviews. We covered the key traits of customers as a whole in our original report, but in this section, we’ll highlight some fascinating variances that emerged when we divided survey responses into age groups.


I want to start by emphasizing that all forms of age discrimination are unacceptable. I dislike slogans that use terms like “millennials” and “avocado toast” or “okays” and “boomers” to stoke division and disrespect. These kinds of associations only serve to alienate and discredit friends, family, and neighbors, particularly in the US. In order to manage and advertise local businesses to meet the needs and preferences of many individuals in our communities, let’s instead take a respectful look at local company customers’ preferences when it comes to reading and submitting reviews. The best foundation for excellent customer service is respect for everyone.


When the survey results were broken down by age groups—18–29, 30–60, and 61+—we observed more similarities than variances in the habits and preferences people have when it comes to evaluations. For instance:


Weekly review reading is the most frequent habit, according to about one-third of each of the three categories.


A bit more than half of respondents in all three groups believe reviews play some role in determining how trustworthy a company is.


After reading enough favorable reviews of a product or service, around half of all three groups indicate that their next step is to visit the company’s website; about one-third of the youngest and oldest groups say that their next step is to physically visit the company; and about one-fourth of the middle group says the same.


The two oldest groups are slightly more likely to do so than the youngest group, with more than half of all three groups saying they will definitely patronize a company if its owner answers to reviews address identified issues.


The eldest group has slightly greater expectations than the two younger groups, with almost half of all three groups requiring a minimum 4 star rating to contemplate doing business with a local brand.


When asked to do so, about one-third of people in all three groups say they “sometimes” submit reviews.


Various reading tastes and habits by age group


Ages 18 to 29 are considered Group A, 30 to 60 are considered Group B, and 61 and over are considered Group C for the purposes of this column.


1. Older Americans are less likely to post reviews


About 14 of Groups A and B respondents who were asked how frequently they submit reviews indicate they do so only sporadically throughout the year. The majority of them write reviews more frequently than this. Group C, on the other hand, comprises 43% of those who only write evaluations sometimes. If a company’s business strategy significantly relies on the sales of elderly clients, it may be more difficult for them to develop their internet image.


2. Google ratings are less important to older Americans.


A bit over 80% of people in Groups A and B claim to read local company reviews on Google the bulk of the time. Interestingly, this percentage reduces to just 62% for Group C, indicating that older Americans read on a wider variety of websites, including the BBB, Yelp, Nextdoor, Facebook, and first-party evaluations on websites for local businesses. Local businesses that depend on the business of senior citizens should make sure to manage reputation on a wide range of platforms.


3. Younger Americans are more likely to rely on social media to check the reputation of local businesses.


A bit more than 60% of Groups A and B respondents mention friends and family as a source they use to learn about the reputation of local businesses, while a higher percentage (74%) use this source overall. Social media usage ranges from 61% of the youngest group to a somewhat smaller 57% of the middle group to a much lower 43% of the oldest group. A similar 43% of Groups A and B, however, turn to the company’s website as their second option, while 44% of Group C choose the Better Business Bureau. Local businesses should be aware that while older Americans continue to place more trust in reputable sources like the BBB, younger Americans are skewed more toward information found on social media.


4. American youth choose SMS-based review requests to printed ones.


Email is mentioned by about half of all three groups as their preferred method of getting review requests, with in-person requests coming in second for everyone. While SMS/text-based review requests are the third option for Groups A and B, Group C likes to be requested for feedback via receipts, bills, and other print documents. While I will admit that, in my own experience, some of my older relatives text me more frequently than my nieces and nephews, it is obvious that local brands must diversify their review acquisition strategies to satisfy the various demands of both groups.


5. Younger Americans require additional instruction in review writing.


Let’s enjoy busting some stereotypes together! It may be a cliche to portray young people as tech-savvy and older people as being behind the times when it comes to technology, but in my own experience, my mother is a far better searcher than I am, and my father is much more knowledgeable about computers than I will ever be.


According to this data set, the main reason why our youngest group doesn’t leave more evaluations is because they perceive the process to be too challenging and complicated. To put it another way, they probably need a little extra support and direction to know how to conveniently and effectively review your local business. The review-writing process is already well under control for Groups B and C, who claim that their biggest obstacle to writing more reviews is simply forgetting to do so when they have the time. Reminders rather than lectures are probably going to be most helpful for these groups.


6. The burden of poor products is felt most by young Americans


Experiencing rude or subpar service at a local establishment is cited as the main reason for writing unfavorable reviews by 66% of Group B and 76% of Group C. The fact that older Americans have the highest expectations for how local businesses will treat them and are profoundly let down when owners and employees behave badly, in my opinion, is both telling and heartbreaking. It’s a far cry from the understaffed warehouses and automated chat bots that all too frequently pass for customer service today that nearly all shops were abundantly staffed with well-trained employees who were earning enough of a living wage to have inner funds of contentment and happiness.


The fact that our youngest group attributes the majority of their unfavorable ratings to subpar products is the data point in this set that most intrigued me. Your niece’s washing machine has already been replaced twice in the five years since she moved into an apartment with her friends, even if your mother-in-law may have used the same one for the past 20 years. Young people are also the poorest, according to Statista, and having to spend what little money they do have on inferior goods is a serious burden, especially when supply chain disruptions brought on by the pandemic force most of us to buy inferior goods because we have no other option. In order to avoid unfavorable reviews and maintain a positive reputation in the eyes of the next generation of consumers, local firms should seriously consider reworking their supply chains wherever it is possible to discover higher quality local items.


7. Americans of all ages have lower expectations for review response times.


Only 7% of group A and 1% of group C expect an owner respond to their evaluation within two hours, compared to 15% of group B. Group B members expect a response within 24 hours, compared to 19% for group A and 18% for group C. Group A expects a response in less than 24 hours (33%), compared to 27% for groups B and C. By responding to reviews as soon as possible, which requires paying attention to incoming review alerts and making time to answer, there is a chance to exceed expectations for all three categories.


8. When issues are resolved, older Americans are more understanding


If an owner responds to their issues, 67% of group B and 61% of group C will unquestionably update a bad review and low star rating. For group A, this number reduces to barely 50%. Perhaps the more lived experience we have, the more aware we become of how easily mistakes happen, and the more readily we recognize and reward efforts to make amends.


Youthful Americans read more reviews before choosing whether a company is worthwhile to attempt.


Before deciding whether a local business is worthwhile of trying, 41% of group A read 10 to 20 reviews, and a comparable 37% of group B do the same. But the dominant characteristic of Group C is that 41% of them read just 5-9 reviews before making up their minds. There are numerous ways to read this. Maybe the more knowledgeable we are, the quicker we can scan a situation and form an opinion. Or, perhaps the younger we are, the more we count on the process of reading lots of reviews to help us gauge public opinion before making our own decision. In any case, local businesses must be sure that there is plenty of reading material in the form of reviews from both of the younger groups.


10. Eldest Americans place the most trust in the public and the least in brand messaging


A pronounced 74% of group C says it places more trust in what customers say about a local business vs. what that business says about itself. For group A, that figure drops to 61% and group B comes in at 69%. Doubtless, the longer we live, the more experience teaches us the difference between reality and advertising, and it’s important to note that for more than 60% of all three groups, control of brand narrative is now firmly in customers’ hands. This is the best of all arguments for why customer service is the core of the business model – it writes the brand story that the majority of the public believes most.


11. Low stars shed the most trust for eldest Americans


Well over half of group C says that a low star rating compared to local competitors is the top source of lost trust when it comes to local business reviews. Groups A and B put the appearance of a business or its staff self-reviewing as their top cause of lost trust. This dynamic shows how trust can be lost at first glance for our eldest group because stars are immediately visible on review profiles, highlighting how important it is for the cumulative reviews to be speaking well of the business. Meanwhile, groups A and B are more investigative, looking more deeply at reviewers’ profiles for signs of suspicious activity. Brands must be sure to avoid all spammy practices that would rightly give these groups cause to doubt the authenticity of their reputation.


12. Youngest Americans are most put off by argumentative owner responses


When asked which factors of an owner response would make them avoid the business, the top element cited by Group A was the owner arguing with the customer. This highlights the need for deft, accountable responses, even when the business believes the customer is wrong. Meanwhile, about half of Group B cites failure of the owner response to fix a cited problem as the characteristic that would make them avoid a business, and nearly ¾ of Group C say the same. Clearly, the more life experience we have, the more we value brands that are great at solving problems that inevitably arise in the course of normal business operations.


13. Eldest Americans have the most motivation (and justification) for sharing their experience via reviews


They say that wisdom comes with age and I see a confirmation of this in the data that 85% of Group C’s primary motivation for writing reviews is to share their experience with others. For Group B, that number is 72%, and for Group A it is 69%. This puts me in mind of how Civics was a required high school class in my parents’ generation, but I seldom hear it spoken of by people of my age group, and I am not sure what part it plays in current school curriculum. Ideas like valuing the sagacity of elders and freely sharing knowledge for community benefit are excellent standards we should not lose. Local brands are extremely fortunate in having volunteers, both young and old, who are continuously speaking about them in every neighborhood across the country.


In conclusion: be sure everybody is sitting at your table


Some local offerings are geared towards specific age groups. For example, a senior community club has a particular audience, as does a pediatrician. If your customers and clients are entirely within a narrow age-range, pay particular attention to the review preference differences we saw in today’s column.


However, what will be more common is that a local business with a general audience will be looking at how to increase the engagement of further segments within their community which aren’t yet frequenting the brand. For example, a clothier might want both elder and younger shoppers to know their shop stocks a wide variety of garments for many ages and tastes. It’s in cases like these that knowledge of specific habits and preferences can get the brand closer to having meaningful interactions with a wider audience.


In the digital age, it turns out that your local business reputation is like a very large dining table, and by considering how each of your guests likes to be served, you’ll be sure there’s a seat for everybody. When it comes to age, diversity, equity, and inclusion make for better conversation and better community.


Eager for more insights? Read: The Impact of Local Business Reviews on Consumer Behavior

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