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Yelp, Should You Follow It?

Duncan Simester posted an interesting blog from the Harvard Business Review. Simester mentions a restaurant he created six years ago with two partners, a restaurant meant to be a grab-and-go food business for more wealthier clients. Simester claims that Yelp started around the same time and while he originally saw the newly found website as a blessing (being able to receive feedback and improve), he noticed that some of the comments were quite harsh.

He notes that although some criticisms may be legitimate, it is hard to sort out the legitimate reviews from the illegitimate reviews (competing businesses, enemies, or people who don’t enjoy a specific cuisine). Furthermore, it is hard to tell which reviews are truly representative from the desired demographic. At an opportunity where he got to meet some of the best Yelpers (those who post the most reviews), he found most of them to be in their early 20s, rather than his usual 30 year old clients, who generally have more money to spend. For him, the negative reviews that complained that the restaurant was too expensive finally made sense.

As a Yelper myself, I have often found positive reviews to be overly positive and am disappointed once I actually try the food. I have to sometimes remind myself that many Americans prefer milder flavor while I seek strong flavor. Given that Yelp is a relatively new website, it has many years to improve its service, and quite frankly, I use the service often. While it’s not the most accurate way (and sometimes a poor way) to guide my consumer behavior, it does help a great bit.

Photo Courtesy of Yelp
Photo Courtesy of MarryHodder