Syracuse, New York has had a long history of being used as a test market (from past to present).  A 2004 report titled Mirror of America, published by Acxiom, ranked Syracuse as one of the top five test markets in the United States.  There are many reasons for choosing Syracuse as a test market including low advertising costs, its relative geographic isolation (from other major cities and television markets), and importantly, its demographic representation of the United States as a whole.  In an earlier blog post, we referenced this Acxiom report. However, since that post a few readers have asked us if we had any more recent information.  Although no official report has been publicized since, Syracuse still remains a top test market based on the most recent demographic data available.

Using 2010 Census estimates, we compared Onondaga County (which consists of the city of Syracuse and most of its suburbs) to the United States.  Some examples of the demographic comparisons can be found below – this includes key areas such as race, age, income, employment and housing.

As you can see above, several key demographic factors are very similar between the Syracuse market and the United States.   This provides an opportunity for conducting market research within a population that represents the U.S. as a whole.  In terms of rolling out a new product/campaign, doing it among the right population is the key to determining a product’s future.  And, in most cases (at least with nationally recognized products), the right population is a representative sample of the entire U.S. market.

An exception to conducting research in an area that is representative of the nation might be for products marketed towards location specific niches in which case testing that product among a different audience will be necessary.  One example being: a product developed to be sold in to a rural population should be researched and tested among a more rural population.  You obviously wouldn’t want to test new models of the John Deere tractor in Los Angeles.  In these cases, it will come down to knowing how prevalent/accessible your audience is on a national level.  Hand picking a convenient location could prove to be misrepresentative and could lead to serious repercussions if the product is unrolled further.  Also, by using a nationally representative audience, rather than a handpicked audience, you may identify new or unthought-of market segments that exist outside of your expected/assumed market.

Product testing with a representative market is a safe choice and will help minimize risks.  With Syracuse’s similarities to the nation as a whole – the city’s market provides an honest platform to access a new product.  This is one of the main reasons that Syracuse remains a top choice among marketers.

Are you in the process of choosing a test market?  Click here to learn more about the benefits that RMS can provide to you.