Industry Analysis (People Reactingto Each Other)

Industry Analysis-People Reacting to Each Other
Industry: People Reacting to Each Other (Social Review Sites)
Presider/Meeting Leader- Toby Herre
File Manager/Project Master- Roxanna Lara
Quality Assurance Coordinator- Oyindamola Onarinde
Meeting Coordinator- Grace Shalah
University of Dallas
October 27, 2014.
This paper gives an overview of the needs based marketing segmentation, marketing
analysis, important competitors, and analysis of major trends, opportunities, weaknesses, and
threats in the industry people reacting to each other. It highlights the three key constituents for
social review sites, analysis of the major competitors (Yahoo Inc. Citysearch, Craigslist,
Google), current trends in the market place, opportunities and threats.
Keywords: Social Review Sites, Rating & Review, Yelp, Google, Trip Advisor, Yahoo Inc.
Executive Summary
Industry Analysis-People Reacting to Each Other
The world of social media has given birth to so many possibilities online that the future of
services provided to customers will continue to change as quickly as the industry of technology
is evolving. In order to understand the effects that social media has on businesses, consumers and
their online behaviors, one must analyze the industry.
Social reviews are a huge part of social media; because they provide information on the
customer analysis to aid in understanding the behavior of the consumer. However, while also
providing feedback on the market, in order to understand the way a customer is segmented and
how to market to a specific demographic, a need based market segment is determined and the
segment is identified (segment identification).
Although knowledge pertaining to these parts of the social review industry is important, it
is not a complete analysis unless important competitors are identified and analyzed. Top
competitors are an important aspect because they are the face and representation of the future
Lastly, all factors, internal and external must be analyzed. A SWOT analysis looks at
internal and external factors that can affect a business. Internal factors are strengths and
weaknesses of the industry, while external factors are threats and opportunities. Once all of this
information is gathered one can analyze and evaluate the industry as a whole.
Table of Contents
Customer Analysis
Industry Analysis-People Reacting to Each Other
a. Needs-Based Market Segments
b. Segment Identification
Market Analysis
Identification and Analysis of Important Competitors
Industry Trends, Opportunities, and Threats
a. Industry Weaknesses
b. Industry Opportunities
c. Industry Threats
d. Industry Trends
Customer Analysis
Industry Analysis-People Reacting to Each Other
Social review sites provide user generated reviews and information on local businesses
and service providers. Its target customers include young and urban consumers and covers
business areas such as travel, restaurants, hotels, museums and retailers.
The overall strategy of companies in these industries is to leverage investments in brand
building, technology, operations, advertising, and partner relationships, and to aggregate a large
base of consumers’ reviews across their global core platform; they are also leveraging these
investments when launching additional points of sale in new countries, new product features and
adding new business model offerings (securities and exchange commission [SEC], 2013).
The major objectives of the companies in the social review sites’ are to select new markets
based on specific criteria including the proximity to existing markets, pre-existing base of
reviews on their platforms, and the number of local advertising growth rate. Their goals are to
attract contributors, consumers and local businesses to their sites, therefore increasing the
awareness of their platforms.
Needs-Based Market Segments
The needs and benefits of what customers’ hope to attain from using ratings and review
sites are categorized into three segments:
Segment A- large geographical and diverse consumers who use ratings and review sites to
search for local businesses to make an investment decision based on the review content.
Segment B- customers who are new in town or travel-oriented community who need guidance
for locations worldwide.
Segment C- businesses who are seeking low-cost, easy-to-use, and effective advertising
solutions to target a large number of intent-driven consumers.
Industry Analysis-People Reacting to Each Other
The behaviors of customers in segment ‘A’ are to get ideas or opinions from other people
before making a decision to purchase. They could also be shopping around for reasonable prices
or trying to compare services in the list of businesses, they are also not in a hurry to make a
decision. Customers in segment ‘A’ prefer to make a purchasing decision based on value to
satisfy their needs.
The segment ‘B’ customers are those who are new in town or planning to visit a new
destination and they need a platform to guide them in their visit. This category includes tourists,
visitors and business travelers.
Segment ‘C’ includes local businesses who are looking to advertise their services online
or need more online presence with review sites.
Segment Identification
This next step in the customer segmentation process is to use a particular method or
different methods to segment the market. Segment identification helps social review sites to
identify and develop different segments to better understand customer profiles in each segment.
With this information they can differentiate customer similarities within a segment and
dissimilarities across segments. Some of these segments include demographics, lifestyle and
usage behaviors.
Demographic- this groups consumers’ with the same characteristics such as age, gender,
household income, number of kids, ethnicity, political affiliation, and political engagement. In
the U.S, the demographic segmentation for people reacting to each other’s industries are male
and female adults mainly between the ages of 25-34, household income falls between $100$150k, mainly people with no kids, education level are majorly graduate school individual,
Industry Analysis-People Reacting to Each Other
ethnicity are mainly Asian and Hispanic, but Asian as the highest segment for ethnicity, political
affiliation was democratic, and political engagement had no impact in the demographic
segmentation (, 2014).
Lifestyles- this segment includes the way people live, for instance, if value provides an end goal
and self-concept is the way one sees oneself in the context of that goal in essence, lifestyle is
how one lives life to achieve those goals. For industries in the social review sites, an example of
lifestyle segmentation could be a customer who is visiting a new place and loves to shop and
dine in nice restaurants. This customer would most likely search for great locations or hotels that
are close to shopping malls and probably a location which requires a short walk to nice
restaurants and small boutiques.
For a business traveller, a hotel with comfortable rooms, business lounges, and a great
location for commuting from the hotel to work would most likely appeal to customers’ that fall
in this segment.
Usage Behaviors- In a survey online, about 85 percent of customers use the Internet to find local
businesses and majority of this consumers’ surveyed use online reviews to make purchase
decisions. The report claims that 27 percent of customers are regularly reading online reviews
while 49 percent are occasional readers (Darnell, 2012).
Today, customers value online reviews much like personal recommendations and this rate is
growing rapidly in these industries.
Also, businesses in these industries increase usage to their websites by continually
collecting, creating, organizing and distributing high quality commercial valuable content at a
cost effective manner on a level that connects customers with content to meet their needs and
also to enable them to share this content in supporting communities.
Industry Analysis-People Reacting to Each Other
Market Analysis
The social media review sites landscape is becoming an over-crowded space with many
new entrants in recent years. The primary business objective of these sites is to connect people to
each other as well as to local business across the world. The barriers to entry in review sites are
relatively low and the benefits can be huge for all constituents.
There are basically three key constituents for social review sites: consumers who write
the reviews, those who read them and the companies which are being reviewed. From a business
standpoint, these sites allow a business to connect with their consumers’ and open lines of
communication for a business. Businesses are able to create, share, and update product and
service offerings. A business can provide consumers with all of the information they need in
order to do business with them in an easy to read and easy to access format. Businesses can also
observe the reviews and interact with consumers’ on these sites and strive to improve existing
products and services when necessary. In addition, these sites allow businesses to keep a close
eye on the competition and they can be used to gauge the competition and determine competitive
The reason these review sites are gaining popularity is because the reviews are seen as
unbiased and credible because other consumers are the ones providing these reviews from their
own experiences . In this sense, consumers can benefit greatly by getting involved in the social
review sites. A 2013 consumer trends survey found that 58 percent of travelers consult social
media review sites prior to booking their trips or service reservation. Ninety- seven percent of
those travelers said that they had been swayed by user reviews to some degree in their choice to
purchase product. (Travel Weekly, 2013).
Industry Analysis-People Reacting to Each Other
These sites are not only easy to use and gain information on a particular company, they
are also a great way to make connections with people in the local community. The most popular
social review sites allow the reviewers to view those that have made the reviews. In addition,
they can communicate with reviewers and build relationships. Another benefit to the consumers
in the growing presence of social review sites is that businesses are being forced to participate in
this form of marketing or they run the risk of losing business in essence; competition will
improve products and services. Managers are now able to monitor and evaluate trends on the
sites and discern the improvements they should make to improve the quality of services and
products, which is also a benefit for consumers and the sites alike.
It is easy to see why social review sites have become so popular. Examples of this is Trip
Advisor, the world's largest travel review site, claims more than 200 million unique monthly
visitors, the site’s traffic quadrupled just two years ago. Meanwhile, Yelp in May 2013 reported
39 million unique monthly visitors, up from 32.4 million a year earlier. (Travel Weekly, 2013).
According to the most recent statistics on Yelp’s website, in Q3 of 2014, the site had an average
of 139 million unique monthly visitors, which went up by 19 percent from a year earlier
(, 2014).
The success of these sites suggest that consumers value the insights of people in their
local communities rather than the opinions of professionals who are paid to review this business
think travel agents, newspapers & magazines, etc. Some of the most popular social review sites
have been around for more than 10 years, so they are established businesses and many of them
have enduring value for their constituents as discussed earlier. Many of them are publicly traded
companies as well. As long as earnings continue to grow and the consumer base expands, the
life cycle of these companies appears to be very enduring. The growth appears to be in the early
Industry Analysis-People Reacting to Each Other
innings and there is a high ceiling for these sites. Yelp’s stock (NYSE:YELP) is up over 117
percent in the past 5 years (, 2014).
An interesting trend which further underscores the popularity of social review sites is the
global trend. Many sites have been gaining traction across the globe in recent years. According
to Yelp’s website, they are actively helping businesses and consumers connect in thirty countries
across the globe. Further helping the trend is the consumers’ high engagement on mobile
technology. As technology has advanced in recent years, access to information has never been
easier to obtain from various mobile sources. From Q3 of 2013 to Q3 of 2014, mobile visitors to
Yelp increased from 50 million to 73 million, representing a 46 percent growth in visitors year
over year (, 2014).
Some critical success factors contribute to the most popular sites and have led them to a
competitive advantage. Citysearch and Yahoo local are two businesses who compete in the social
review site arena and according to one article on; they both made a critical
mistake. Citysearch and Yahoo local made minimal attempts to attract reviewers. One can argue
that they simply waited for anonymous reviewers to fall from cyberspace. One of the industry
leaders, Yelp, took a different approach to attracting reviewers to their site. Yelp enables and
encourages reviewers to establish a social image or reputation (, 2011).
This strategy had paid off for Yelp as the same article found that reviewers on this site
are more productive than reviewers on other sites. They are more likely to review more
businesses versus other websites who have a high number of reviewers writing only one review.
Consumers have shown a strong preference and loyalty to sites that recognize their value. Many
social review sites are beginning to reward reviewers with status, such as “elite”, to those
reviewers that have written several reviews. According to a study by, only
Industry Analysis-People Reacting to Each Other
4.8 percent of Citysearch reviewers and 11.1 percent of Yahoo Local reviewers wrote 6+
reviews. Compare that to Yelp, where 65.8 percent of reviewers wrote 6+ reviews
(, 2011).
The social review site landscape continues to evolve and improve. There is no doubt that
competitors are paying attention to the most successful sites and continuing to improve the
overall quality of information which is good for consumers. While it is impossible to be all
things to all consumers, it is important for businesses and marketing managers to continue to
strengthen their web presence and really listen to what the consumers are telling them. One
factor that consumers are paying close attention to is how the businesses and managers are
responding to their feedback these sites provide them. These sites are likely to be a part of our
lives for years to come and it will be interesting to see how the industry evolves; as well as the
affect the consumers will have in shaping this industry.
Identification and Analysis of Important Competitors
The industry of review sites is inundated with competition. After analyzing Yelp’s top
competitors we identified each of their competitive advantages and weaknesses to better
understand their position in the industry in relation to Yelp. Yelp being a global company with
customers in twenty-seven countries around the world is competing with other major businesses.
Among Yelp’s competitors, the top competitors are considered to be Yahoo Inc. Citysearch, and
Craigslist. Yelp is considered to be the Internet’s yellow pages and is expected to become the
leading mobile search application for all local businesses. Yelp’s competitive advantage is not
limited to the restaurant business alone and the Yelp mobile application provides an easy way to
Industry Analysis-People Reacting to Each Other
find information on any local business category. This creates a large combination value for the
Additionally, Stoppleman stated, Yelp is conducting sting operations, which is an
approach that alerts consumers the company paid money to get favorable reviews. This is an
effort other companies are not really focusing on. Stoppelman believes that this aggressive
approach to review filtering gives Yelp a key competitive advantage over rivals like Google and
Facebook, which host reviews but do not put quite so much effort into ensuring they are genuine
(Stoppelman, 2014).
Craigslist is one of Yelp’s top competitors, which are also involved in posting inaccurate
reviews. Google, Facebook, and Craigslist will need a verification strategy in order to better
compete with Yelp. Craigslist offers free classified advertisements for housing, jobs, discussion
forums, and other categories to their customers’. It possesses a low cost producer advantage
serving a massive market of people who only want to consume. Craigslist operates in an
unmonitored manner across the world. This is considered a weakness when competing with its
Unlike Yelp, Craigslist has no incorporated verification that allows someone to know
whether the person is indeed the person they say they are. This is a risk customers are taking
when they decide to use Craigslist’s services. The only information Craigslist requires is a
legitimate email address, which is not difficult with free offering email sites. Craigslist works by
promoting a direct relationship between the buyer and seller to keep up with the growing
marketplace. An increase in supportive staff is definitely needed to monitor listings against scam
listings and other posted ads. Dealing with institutional customers is a weakness of Craigslist.
Industry Analysis-People Reacting to Each Other
According to Matt Marshall’s article in The Mercury News, Craigslist is successful due to
it being easy to use, inexpensive, and having emotional ties with its users (Bazley, 2004).
Yelp’s other top competitor is Citysearch, which is now CityGrid Media. CityGrid Media
(Citysearch) offers local content and advertising network through its new identity. Customers are
still going through Citysearch, Insider Pages, and the Urbanspoon. Insider pages reflect their
business review services and Urbanspoon reflects restaurant reviews, this is what makes both
Yelp and Citysearch competitors.
Greg Sterling argued that in 2010, monetization for Yelp and other players were difficult
and it was then when CityGrid and other local networks began to solve several problems. The
problems solved were attaining qualified traffic, which led to local advertisers across a very
fragmented local online segment providing better monetization for local publishers and
developers and providing traffic for publishers that don’t want to rely too heavily on a single
source. (Sterling, 2010)
Yahoo is another one of Yelp’s top competitors. It focuses on being the initial point for its
customers, business searching for information, products and services. In 2013 Marissa Mayer,
Yahoo’s CEO argued that, Yahoo would have a competitive advantage in making people’s daily
digital habits more interesting. This included daily activities like communicating, searching,
reading, and sharing information. As consumers focus more on mobile phones, local business
data had become more important. In 2010 Yahoo Inc. initiated a partnership with Yelp Inc. in
early March of this year hoping it would improve its search engine local information to better
compete with Google. Yahoo is not doing well in the query market so it’s trying to correct that
(Mayer, 2013).
Industry Analysis-People Reacting to Each Other
Both Yahoo and Yelp announce a co-branding relationship that will bring Yelp’s local
search information to “Powered Yelp.” This partnership was not taken well by some businesses
and consumers because some reviews took years to acquire and now only one or a few are
showing. It seems like the companies did not do a very good job in communicating the change.
Although Yelp has its competitive advantages, Yelp Inc. is also facing competition from
some of the Internet advertising giants. Bhatia argued that, Yelp has faced controversies such as
negative press around alleged manipulation of reviews as well as formidable competition in its
flagship local ad segment from large Internet companies including Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL),
Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) and Trip Advisor (NASDAQ:TRIP). All of these rivals have
intensified their focus on local advertising in recent years. Yelp not only competes with Google
for advertising revenue, but Google is also responsible for generating over half of the traffic on
Yelp. A change in the Google algorithm which reduces the organic reach for Yelp could have a
negative impact on Yelp's revenue or on its marketing costs, Yelp is only in its first or second
innings of growth (Bhatia, 2014).
According to Robert Peck from Sun Trust, Google is considered Yelp’s biggest competitor
based web browser. This is due to customers that search for a specific business and received as
the first result of Google Plus profile or the actual business needed. If customers’ are to see the
first results as a Google Plus profile there will be a decreased number of Yelp’s site visitors. The
utilizing of the Yelp Mobile Application would decrease the competition between Google and
Yelp, as Yelp users would search or call directly from the mobile application (Peck 2014) .
Yelp has been successfully competing against Google in local content and advertising. It
is outperforming Google’s Zagat. Google Zagat deals with restaurant and nightlife organic
search results. Robert Peck argued that restaurants are by far Yelp’s biggest source of reviews,
Industry Analysis-People Reacting to Each Other
accounting for 41 percent of all reviews by the year end of 2012. Aside from Google and Zagat,
OpenTable, and Urbanspoon are among Yelp’s biggest competitors in the
restaurant space. If Yelp were to expand its presence in the home services space, it would see
competition from Angie’s List, and Peck suggests that a bid request feature in Yelp’s mobile app
might help it better compete with Angie (Robert Peck, 2014).
In order for companies to better compete with each others they should partner with other
businesses. Yelp has adopted this strategy and has partnered with Yellow Pages to better
compete with Google and Facebook. The agreement will help Yelp gain more customers with
less expenses; it includes the expanding of Yellow Pages advertising reach to include Yelp in its
local ad network. In doing so Yelp gained access to Yellow Pages’ local sales force and
advertiser base. These partnerships were made in hopes to reinforce their product competition.
Overall, Yelp’s advertising segment continues to grow and is able to effectively compete
with its top competitors. Capitalizing on its competitive advantage will help provide companies
strategy and direction to remain competitive and scalable. Innovating new products and
implementing new features will help in the online advertising industry.
Industry Trends, Opportunities, and Threats
There are many opportunities, threats, and strategic alternatives for social review sites. In
our research, we did a SWOT analysis to better understand the impact of these values in
reference to social review sites. Social listening offers opportunities to interact directly with
consumers. The advice given to companies in terms of social listening is to understand the
message the customer is conveying.
Industry Analysis-People Reacting to Each Other
In order to listen to their customers’, companies must ask questions such as are they
hearing one loud voice, or a growing trend? Is positive sentiment due to great advertising or a
well-made product (Frott, 2013)? Companies need to understand the full picture before they
Another significant point that must be taken into consideration is the context of online
updates and conversations; it is the customers’ context that really matters. In other words, the
company’s response should fulfill the customer’s expectations. Engaging with the intention of
delivering mutual value- consumers have shown they are willing to give up some level of
privacy in exchange for better service and incredible value. Demonstrate how listening builds
relationships, rather than simply intruding on consumers’ conversations. People are still sensitive
about privacy, and listening for listening sake is simply creepy (Burnmaster, 2009).
The main advantage of social media is cost-related. The financial barriers to social media
marketing are quite low compared to others. The majority of social media sites are free to access,
where consumers can create profiles and post information. Social networking sites have become
so persuasive that they are the most popular Internet destinations (Burnmaster, 2009). Not only
has new media demonstrably altered how often people communicate online, but it has also
expanded the pool of individuals they communicate with, and led to new ways for behaviors to
be influenced (Burnmaster, 2009).
Consumer behavior studies reveal that individuals give greater consideration to advice and
information shared online, spending more time on websites that provide third- party evaluations
(Huang et al. 2009), and other studies indicate such information can directly influence buying
decisions, even if received from purely viral sources (Awad et al. 2006; Weiss et al. 2008) cited
by (Hafele, 2001).
Industry Analysis-People Reacting to Each Other
Industry Weaknesses
Weaknesses include marketers having issues with confusing social ad options. This also
includes the fact that many business owners make the mistake of not understanding social media
return on investment (DeMers, 2014).
Another weakness is that the structure of social networks reveals far more than people
intend about the way they live and work and the nature of the society. For example, there was
one group of employees at a company who were almost entirely disconnected from the rest of the
organization (DeMers, 2014). By looking at these people’s publicly available employment
histories, fire and co-worked point out that they were all part of a start-up which had been bought
by the company but had clearly failed to integrate into the broader organization. Unless a
company has someone checking their social media accounts several times a day, disgruntled
customers or employees can publish negative comments that are not always removable or
Industry Opportunities
Opportunities need to be understood by companies and the marketers working with the
social review sites. They must know things like the number of reviews and average rating on a
product correlate closely with conversion to purchase. In the Beauty product category, when the
number of reviews increases from 1 to 15, we see a 56 percent increase in orders.
Industry Threats
Threats could also do damage to a company through social reviews. Companies should
keep in mind that bad news could go viral so as good news, and can do a business irreparable
harm. In June 2010, the Information Systems Audit and Control Association released a report
Industry Analysis-People Reacting to Each Other
ranking viruses and malware, brand hijacking, lack of control over corporate content, unrealistic
customer expectations and non-compliance with record management regulations as the top five
risks of social media.
Soliciting user-generated content in connection with a marketing strategy comes with
some risk of incurring legal liability for content created by an individual participating in the
Lastly, negative feedbacks pose a huge threat to social reviews, one aspect of social
networking is that it is especially damaging to marketing campaigns especially negative post
responses. Unhappy customers or industry competitors are able to post disparaging or offensive
pictures, posts, or videos, and there is nothing much a marketer can do to prevent these
occurrences. Still, negative or non-constructive feedback cannot be ignored. Social networks
must be managed efficiently enough to immediately respond and neutralize harmful posts, which
takes more time.
Industry Trends
Major trends that are shaping the new digital marketplace will be big data, authentic
brands, consumers’ defining the moment of truth, social media insights and advocacy as a way of
winning more word-of- mouth share. There are a few predictions about the trends of social
media, specifically social reviews. One of them being that investment in social media will
become a necessity, not a luxury. It is reported that the indication of the importance of social
media to business owners had jumped from 86 percent to 92 percent since the year 2013.
Businesses are starting to see the need for social media advertising and other inbound marketing
strategies and are making it a priority to fit these strategies into their budgets.
Industry Analysis-People Reacting to Each Other
The second prediction is that Google plus will become a major factor. This platform is
only being used by over half of marketers, but 61 percent of businesses plan on increasing their
Google plus activities, meaning that companies will have to make it a necessity in their business.
Image-Centric Networks will see huge success; this is a third prediction pertaining to the social
review and media industry. Some examples of image-centric social networks are Pinterest,
Instagram and Snapchat.
These social networks may not be seen as a huge competition in comparison to Facebook,
but the loyal customer base that has been created by these social networks is the key to their
success. This makes them just as important as Facebook or Twitter, as the other social networks
are habit-forming. Prediction number four is the rise of the micro-video.
In our current day and age, a short attention span has become a part of our society and the
American culture. A part of our society is working in a fast paced culture where we are always
on the go and do not take a minute to breath. This is why the micro-video fits our lifestyle
perfectly (DeMers, 2014). As a result brands are using micro-video platforms like Vine and
Instagram to stand out by communicating their message in a simplified manner. This leads to
prediction number five, which is Foursquare will decline (DeMers, 2014). In an effort to stop this
from happening, Foursquare has released a new application called Swarm. This new application
allows users to find friends with the use of neighborhood sharing without the need to check in.
The creation of this new application is to split Foursquare into two and there will be a new
and improved Foursquare application launched next summer. The new and improved application
will be set as a direct competitor to Yelp, with the main difference being that places the user has
visited are already set to Foursquare (Avoyan, 2009). Myspace will grow, this is the sixth
prediction and even though it is not a popular social media site it is still slowly growing.
Industry Analysis-People Reacting to Each Other
Myspace is using email marketing to capture the attention of its old users by reminding them that
they still have photos on the site (DeMers, 2014). This drives users to revisit the site from all of
the old content they have to their profiles, especially for the fans of many artists.
Lastly, prediction number seven is that LinkedIn will become a major player for business
to business. It is currently beating online business -to-business growth in comparison to
Facebook and Twitter.
Industry Analysis-People Reacting to Each Other
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