Who Really Reads Restaurant Reviews?

who reads restaurant reviews

We hear all about restaurant reviews and how they can make or break a business. But, just how important are they? Do that many consumers actually read reviews online before visiting a restaurant for the first time?

To answer this question, we surveyed American consumers, ages 18 and up. Based on the 1,643 responses collected, it was concluded that 40% of consumers check for reviews online prior to visiting a restaurant that is new to them.

Don’t have time to read this case study? Check out our Who Really Reads Restaurant Reviews Infographic!


Restaurant Reviews by Gender

In almost every age group, women were more likely to check for reviews online prior to dining in a new restaurant. Perhaps men are more daring or adventurous than women when it comes to trying a new restaurant?

  • Female: 46.1%
  • Male: 36.9%

Restaurant Reviews by Age

Our findings concluded that consumers between the ages of 18 and 44 are more likely to read restaurant reviews than those aged 45+. Both men and women within the 25-34 age group were the most likely to read restaurant reviews.

  • 18-24: 41%
  • 25-34: 46.0%
  • 35-44: 44.8%
  • 45-54: 40.6%
  • 55-64: 37.1%
  • 65+: 38.2%

Age/Gender Trends

In the younger age groups (18-24, 25-34, 35-44), women were significantly more likely to read restaurant reviews online. However, in the older age groups (45-54, 55-64, 65+), the gap between men and women who read restaurant reviews drew closer. In fact, in the 55-64 age group, more men (37.5%) reported reading online reviews than women (36.6%).

Restaurant Reviews by Income Brackets

According to the data collected, as consumers’ income decreased, as did their likelihood of reading restaurant reviews. 66.7% of respondents making $150,000 or more read restaurant reviews compared to 37.3% of respondents making $25,000 – $49,000.

  • 0 – 24999: 38.5%
  • 25000 – 49999: 37.3%
  • 50000 – 74999: 43.6%
  • 75000 – 99999: 45.4%
  • 100000 – 149999: 60.0%
  • 150000+: 66.7%

Restaurant Reviews by Geographic Area

To our surprise, there were significant differences in responses based on the four geographic regions of the United States. 44.7% of respondents from the Southern U.S. check restaurant reviews compared to only 31.0% of respondents from the Western U.S.

  • West: 31.0%
  • Northeast: 36.4%
  • Midwest: 38.6%
  • South: 44.7%

Who is most likely to read restaurant reviews?

Based on the data received, we compiled personas for those most likely and least likely to read restaurant reviews prior to visiting a restaurant for the first time.

The most likely candidate to read restaurant reviews is a female, ages 25 to 34, earning $75,000 – $99,000 annually, and living in the Southern United States.  

The least likely candidate to read restaurant reviews is a male, ages 65+, earning $25,000 – $49,000 annually, and living in the Western United States.

who reads restaurant reviews

Methodology: The survey was conducted using Google Consumer Surveys. 1643 responses were collected December 9, 2015 through December 10, 2015. The sample included America’s general population on the Internet, ages 18 to 65+. Respondents were asked the following open-ended question: “Do you check for online reviews before visiting a new restaurant?” Some of the responses collected included, “yes”, “always”, “sometimes”, “no”, and “never.”

Some data, such as inferred gender, inferred age, geographical data, and inferred income for some respondents was not available or could not be determined.  The information provided here is representative of data that was determinable and available. The Root Mean Square Error (RSME) score for this survey is 4.0.

Alexis Hesseltine

Alexis Hesseltine

Marketing & Media Relations Coordinator at QSROnline.com
Alexis is the Marketing and Media Relations Coordinator at QSROnline. She’s responsible for content strategy, obtaining partnerships with industry leaders, and offering restaurateurs an excellent back-office system. Her passions are helping restaurants succeed and spending time with her French Bulldog, Winnie.
Alexis Hesseltine