Yelp as an anti-brand hero

I made a quick trip to Charlevoix last week. Without much planning, we needed to stop to eat a quick bite on the road. Although, generally, I prefer to eat at good independent restaurants, the lack of time and planning made me want to consider a chain restaurant.

A large chain restaurant is a brand, and the attraction of brands is that you know what to expect. Even is you arrive in a new place, you can walk in to a restaurant that you never been, and yet the experience will be pretty much what you expected it to be. No great surprises, but no awful experiences either. This is what makes people go easily to Starbucks in a new place rather than sampling an unknown little cafe, even if the upside of a better experience may well be there.

If I have been in San Francisco instead of in Chalevoix, I would have used Yelp to quickly find a non-chain place. Yelp has reached a critical mass in San Francisco and as such, you can pretty much find the place you want based on the reviews (well, you need to actually read a bit the reviews, not just the ratings if you want a fair idea of the place).

All that really made me think about how Yelp may be in fact an anti-brand hero. A shining light for all those small business that try hard, agains odds to offer a different and unique product. A way for potential customers to discover those great places and to steer away from large brands without risking an awful experience.

What do you think?

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