On Dec 14 Pew Research Center published a report in their Internet & American Life Project, looking at how Americans find details of local businesses. The survey was carried out in January 2011 via telephone interview of 2,251 adults in the USA, aged 18 and over.
When it came to restaurants, bars and clubs, 51% relied on the internet (especially search engines), 31% on newspapers (mostly print rather than online), 23% on word of mouth and 8% on local television. The results were not wildly different for information on other types of business. The thing that got picked up in the press coverage of this report was the low usage of social media (including Twitter), which was 3% for restaurants etc. and 1% for other businesses.
The report includes analyses of which demographic was most likely to use each medium e.g. those using local broadcast TV were most likely to be over 65, non internet users, earning less than US$30,000.
Rainie, L. et al (2011) Where people get information about restaurants and other local businesses. Pew Research Center. http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2011/Local-business-info.aspx
Photo by Sheila Webber: Branches against the sky, Lewes, December 2011 (photoshopped)