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Yelp to expand data on Asian-owned businesses as consumers prioritize diversity

Brian Cheung
·3 min read
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Review site Yelp (YELP) said Tuesday that it will add an option for businesses to identify as Asian-owned to better understand consumer interactions in the Asian community.

The murders of six Asian women in Atlanta in March have raised concerns about the impact of anti-Asian sentiment on Asian-owned businesses, particularly those supporting lower-income jobs.

“This is really a mechanism to allow people to celebrate these communities and to celebrate these businesses,” Justin Norman, Yelp's vice president of data science, told Yahoo Finance.

The initiative was launched in partnership with Gold House, a nonprofit organization working to boost the representation of Asian and Pacific Islander talent.

Yelp has already rolled out the so-called “attribute” options for Latinx, women, and Black entrepreneurs. In a study released alongside the Gold House announcement Tuesday, Yelp noted that search data show consumers are more eager to spend their money at businesses owned by diverse entrepreneurs.

For example, the rate of searches for women-owned businesses in the U.S. increased by 264% in February 2021 compared to the year prior. Searches for Black-owned businesses were up 3,085%, and for Latinx-owned businesses interest surged 4,077%.

“People are increasingly seeking out and supporting these underserved businesses in their own communities and the data makes that quite clear,” Norman said.

Diverse businesses were more resilient

The Yelp report adds that diverse businesses were also more likely to engage with consumer feedback on the site compared to the average business. Women-owned, Black-owned, and Latinx-owned businesses were also more likely to have higher ratings and reviews compared to the average comparable business.

The Yelp data also highlights the resilience of businesses with diverse owners through the pandemic. Despite the credit challenges and income disparities that tend to disproportionately impact those businesses, Yelp noted that they were more likely to endure multiple closures than businesses overall.

Yelp's Diverse Business Report looked at businesses that were open at the start of the pandemic and subsequently closed and reopened at least once. Yelp classified a
Yelp's Diverse Business Report looked at businesses that were open at the start of the pandemic and subsequently closed and reopened at least once. Yelp classified a "reopening" based on any edits to a business's listed hours or the business's use of the site's temporary closure feature (excluding closures due to holidays). Source: Yelp Local Economic Impact Report

Among businesses that reopened at least once, 31% of Latinx-owned businesses survived after having to reopen two or more times. Compared to the overall average of 26%, Women-owned and Black-owned businesses similarly had higher resiliency through two or more reopenings (29% and 28%, respectively).

Yelp's expansion into offering businesses the option to identify as Asian-owned is an effort to add more insights into Asian-owned businesses. But Norman emphasized that the feature will be entirely optional for businesses given the concern over the use of disaggregated data.

“The option is entirely opt-in, so that means that a business has to decide to choose with us to add that attribute to their Yelp page as well as has full control over when and how it is displayed afterwards,” Norman said.

Brian Cheung is a reporter covering the Fed, economics, and banking for Yahoo Finance. You can follow him on Twitter @bcheungz.

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