- Yelp launched a new feature on its app that tailors to consumers' preferences and lifestyles on Tuesday, according to a press release sent to Restaurant Dive.
- Users will be able to indicate their personal dietary and accessibility preferences, lifestyle attributes and other interests. The new feature then transforms the user's homescreen and search results into a more personalized experience that includes search result rankings, shortcuts to filters and suggestions based on those preferences.
- Chief Product Officer Vivek Patel said in the release that this introduction is one of the company's most significant product updates in Yelp's 15-year history. The option to personalize Yelp will be available to all iOS users in the fall with the full experience available on Androids next year.
Thanks in large part to Amazon, personalized digital experiences are quickly becoming the expectation as more companies leverage consumer data through algorithms to generate direct-to-consumer messages. As time is an increasingly important commodity for consumers, they don't want to spend it sifting through information that is not relevant to them.
Accordingly, a survey from Periscope by McKinsey finds that 55% of American consumers sometimes or often opt-in to receive personalized communications from brands they know. Most consumers surveyed also said they would want to receive messages about products relating to their interests.
With this launch, Yelp is using its data from more than 192 million reviews, photos and other user-generated content. This enables the company to provide recommendations based on more than just search history, the release said. Among those recommendations is lifestyle diets, including gluten-free, halal, keto, kosher, pescatarian, vegan or vegetarian. Yelp's feature also will identify restaurants suitable based on a user's restrictions, which could be beneficial to the 4% of Americans with food allergies and those restaurants that accommodate them. The tool also applies to consumers who are looking for wheelchair accessibility, a specific food or drink category, children's menus, and healthier menus. L.E.K. Consulting research finds that 93% of consumers want to eat healthy most of the time. A feature like this could better help them achieve that goal.
This launch also shows a necessary evolution for Yelp, which has been around since 2004 but has faced intensifying competition from other platforms like Google and Instagram. The company lost its spot atop the reviews throne to Google in 2015, pivoting to other features like reservations. Because of competitive pressures, Yelp's stock dropped by 30% during the last quarter of 2018. Yelp said that the feature is one of several major product changes that will also include a new design and website that better integrates all of its products, which include Yelp Reservations, Waitlist and Request a Quote, according to the press release.
Consumers' expectations will continue to evolve as more companies adopt personalized communication, including in the restaurant space. McDonald's, for example, acquired Dynamic Yield this year specifically to create a more personalized drive-thru experience for its guests. With a monthly average of 37 million unique mobile app users, Yelp's new feature will help push those expectations along and, perhaps, more importantly, breathe new life into the company that has navigated not only increased competition, but also a bevy of other issues.