Local SEO firm BrightLocal has published the findings of a US survey (n=800) about consumer willingness to drive to local businesses. The firm found, “The average time that a consumer is willing to travel to a local business is 17 minutes.”
This is broadly consistent with the persistent anecdotal assertion that most of US consumer spending happens within 15 – 20 miles from home. The survey asked consumers how far they were willing to drive in each of 13 local business categories:
- General Shop
- Clothes Shop
- Gym/sports club
- Specialist Shop (e.g. bike shop)
- Garage/car dealer
- Hair salon
- Yoga class/alternative therapy
- Wedding shop/venue
There were some differences by gender, age and category. Below are the category averages: driving distance by time. But assume that time and miles here are roughly equivalent.
The immediate marketing implications are somewhat obvious: SMBs don’t advertise to people more than about 20 minutes away. The caveat is that people’s attitudes and behavior may be different. Someone may be willing to drive a longer distance based on the reputation of the business or an available discount, for example.
Restaurants may also be a unique case as well because travelers and tourists often look for restaurants in cities they’re visiting.
On the PC this implicates zip or post-code level targeting. In mobile it implicates geofencing if we’re talking about real-time targeting. The mobile scenario is somewhat more complex.
As a basic matter, campaign data from JiWire and YP has shown that geotargeted mobile ads appear to be most effective when they’re served 1 and 2 miles from a business location. Yet this is a very broad generalization.
Mobile ad targeting is evolving, especially when it comes to location. It is to some degree moving away from pure geofencing to something more nuanced that includes audience identification and targeting. Location is increasingly being used as a “behind the scenes” tool to discover audience behavior and affinities rather than a real-time targeting methodology.
Regardless, the BrightLocal consumer survey data appear to confirm the conventional wisdom about consumer drive-time and distance tolerances.