Study Shows How Proximity Effects Consumer Decisions

Peter Roesler, President - Web Marketing Pros

By Peter Roesler

President, Web Marketing Pros

market-researchProximity matter a lot in all forms of commerce. Shipping times determine which online retailer consumers use. Similarly, driving determines which brick-and-mortar retailers customers choose to shop at. For this and other reasons, marketers like to portray their businesses as local. A recent study reveals that local means different things to different people and how it affects their choices as consumers.

Words such as urban, suburban and rural have connotations that people generally understand without being very specific. However, for researchers, these terms have very specific meanings and when analyzing activity, the kind of area a person lives in has an effect. Researchers with xAd divided more than 20,000 respondents into Urban, Suburban and Rural to determine what location means to people, and what they found was that location varies according to where people live.

The findings of the study tells marketers a lot about consumers in different types of areas. For example, the kind of area a person lives in influences when and what they drink for recreation. According to the study, urban dwellers are more likely than their rural counterparts to go out for coffee. The difference is more striking when it come to alcohol. People who lived in urban areas were more than twice as likely (112%) to go out for drinks after work than residents in rural or suburban areas.

People in urban areas have access to more brick-and-mortar retailers than their suburban and rural counterparts. This allows urban residents to be more selective in the retailers they use and make decisions based on convenience. According to the researchers, urban dwellers are less likely to travel more than 1 mile to pick up prescription medications.

This data has implications beyond the pharmacy. Local retailers should use mobile ads to let consumers in the area know that they can get the products and services they need without traveling very far. As was noted in previous articles, Local Awareness Ads on Facebook and local ads on Google’s mobile search app can greatly increase the foot traffic to a brick-and-mortar retailer.

The study also gave credence to some commonly held beliefs about the people who live away from the city. The data showed that rural and suburban dwellers are more likely than their urban counterparts to drive kids to extracurricular activities. This piece of data would make sense given the common perception of kids in the suburbs being driven to extracurricular activities like soccer practice or dance classes.

However, the data also repudiated some commonly held stereotypes. Despite the belief that people in the suburbs and rural areas always eat healthier, the study reported that suburban and rural people are more likely to grab a fast food burger than urbanites. And while telecommuting is something suggested to help workers dealing with traffic jams between urban and suburban areas, one in five rural dwellers work from home, a rate 40 percent higher than suburban or urban areas.

Business owners and marketers can read the Xad report in its entirety by downloading it from their website. It has a lot of interesting data that can help business owner and marketers improve the effectiveness of their local marketing.

For more information on local marketing, read this article on Google’s plan to “unverify” inactive Google My Business listings.


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