Image of Greater Bakersfield
Research Conducted by Cogent Research,
Overall Perceptions of Bakersfield are consistent across both consumers
Perception of and businesses. The largest proportion of consumers and
Bakersfield businesses in fact have no impression of Bakersfield. In
addition, those with unfavorable views outweigh those with
Very favorable Very favorable
3% Very 6% Very
nor favorable nor favorable
Subgroup analysis: Business persons who
have been to Bakersfield within the past year
have a more favorable impression than those
who have not been there in the past year.
QC2, QB1. What is your overall perception of Bakersfield, California? Please
use a scale of 1 to 5 where 1 is “very unfavorable” and 5 is “very
Overall Among both groups, perceptions of Fresno are similar to
Perception of perceptions of Bakersfield. Perceptions of Los Angeles are
Other Cities slightly more favorable.
Very favorable Very un-
Very 8% favorable
Very favorable 9%
nor favorable nor favorable
Very favorable Very favorable unfavorable
Los Angeles Somewhat
favorable 23% unfavorable
27% Somewhat 24%
QC3, QB2. What is your overall perception of Fresno, California?
QC4, QC3. What is your overall perception of Los Angeles, California?
Familiarity with Bakersfield positively affects perceptions
Confirming our qualitative findings, consumers who have spent time in
Bakersfield, who have family and friends who live in Bakersfield, or who
have had the opportunity to get to know the people that live there have a
more favorable impression of the community. In addition, business
people who have a favorable impression of Bakersfield most often
attribute it to visiting the city.
A significant proportion of both consumers and business persons report
very limited knowledge of Bakersfield. In many cases, their lack of
knowledge and experience results in their having little or no impression
of the city. Over a third of both groups say that their overall impression
of Bakersfield is neither unfavorable nor favorable.
As we saw in the qualitative interviews, people’s perception of Bakersfield
changed when they learned more about what the city has to offer. For
example, a common perception among consumers is that there is
“nothing to do” in Bakersfield. However, when they are read messages
about the various activities available, many say they would be more
likely to visit the city. In addition, most business persons are unaware of
the quality and availability of Bakersfield’s labor force. After hearing
messages about the labor force, they say they would be more likely to
relocate their company to Bakersfield.
These misconceptions and lack knowledge present a great opportunity for
Bakersfield to positively change its target markets’ perceptions through
education and strategic communication.
Perceived Strengths of Bakersfield
Cost of living and housing
The perception that cost of living and housing is a strength of Bakersfield
is held among people looking to relocate, people who may be retiring in
the near future, and business persons. In particular, the message about
the cost of housing makes business people more likely to consider
relocating to Bakersfield.
Friendliness of people
The friendliness of the people who live in Bakersfield is perceived as
better than in other communities. This is an important feature for people
looking to relocate to another community.
Ability to offer a “change of pace”
This is a factor that tourists look for when choosing a community to visit
and one which they believe Bakersfield can provide better than other
Bakersfield’s restaurants are perceived as being better than those of
other communities. The quality of an area’s restaurants is important to
Cost of land and labor
Businesses are most likely to relocate in order to reduce costs and
because growth of the company has created a need for a larger facility.
In particular, the cost of labor weighs relatively heavily in their relocation
decision. Bakersfield’s cost of land and labor is perceived as better than
that of other communities.
Accessibility to highways
Accessibility to highways, which is important in business relocation
decisions, is perceived as better in Bakersfield than in other communities.
Perceived Weaknesses of Bakersfield
Bakersfield’s hot, dry weather was found to have a negative impact on
both consumers’ and business persons’ impressions of the city. Weather
is perceived as being very important by all groups. In several instances,
Bakersfield’s weather has prevented tourists from visiting and relocaters
from moving there.
Cultural and recreational activities
Bakerfield’s night life, and cultural and recreational activities are
perceived as being worse than in other communities. Such activities are
very important to tourists, and influential in their decisions about where
to visit. Importantly, when read messages about the activities Bakersfield
has to offer, the majority of participants say that the information makes
them more likely to visit. The fact that survey paticipants respond
favorably to information about culture and recreation in Bakersfield is
consistent with qualitative findings.
Career and higher educations opportunities
Consumers who are likely to relocate within the next two years are driven
to do so for career and educational opportunities. Those who are unlikely
to relocate to Bakersfield cite the job market as one of the reasons. Not
surprisingly, messages about the higher education institutions in
Bakersfield make potential relocaters more likely to want to move to
The availability of and quality of medical care are deemed the most
important factors to people looking for somewhere to retire. In general,
Bakerfield’s medical care is perceived as worse than that of other
The quality of labor force
Labor, particularly its availability, is among the most important factors
that businesses consider when deciding where to relocate. Work ethic of
the labor force is important to businesses. However, the work ethic of
Bakersfield’s labor force is not perceived as relatively strong. Not
surprisingly, the message about the strength of Bakersfield’s labor force
makes businesses more likely to want to relocate there.
Businesses feel they need to be closer to other areas, or closer to their
established markets and customer bases, and seem unsure about the
business opportunities in Bakersfield.
There are several areas in which Bakersfield is living up to consumers’
and businesses’ expectations and needs. We recommend that
Bakersfield continue to concentrate on excelling in these areas and
communicating its excellence in these areas to the appropriate groups.
There are also a number of areas that are important to consumers and
businesses which are perceived as being worse in Bakersfield than in
other communities. In several cases, both consumers and businesses
are simply unaware of what Bakersfield has to offer. These
misconceptions can be corrected by educating people about Bakersfield’s
This study explored the needs and perceptions of several different groups
of people including tourists, people looking to relocate, people who may
being retiring in the near future, and business persons. We recommend
addressing the disparate needs of each of these groups with the
messages that will be most relevant to them. The specific
recommendations for each of these groups follow.
• Educate consumers about the recreational and cultural activities
Bakersfield has to offer. Let them know that there are, in fact, many
“things to do” in Bakersfield and that there are many reasons to visit.
• Highlight Bakersfield’s superior restaurants and the “change of pace”
from regular life it can offer to tourists.
• Educate consumers about the abundant job opportunities and higher
education opportunities in Bakersfield.
• Educate consumers about the quality of Bakersfield’s public education.
• Promote Bakersfield’s low crime rate, low cost of living, and low cost of
• Promote the friendliness of the people who live in the Bakersfield
• Concentrate less on promoting Bakersfield’s central location.
• Educate older consumers about the quality and availability of medical
care in Bakersfield.
• Promote the affordable cost of living.
• Educate business persons about the stability, availability, skills, and
work ethic of Bakersfield’s labor force.
• Educate businesses about Bakersfield’s accessibility to major markets.
• Promote the affordability of labor, living, and housing in Bakersfield.
• Promote the abundance of affordable land available in and around
• Promote Bakersfield’s accessibility to major highways.
Awareness of The majority of consumers and business persons are aware that
Bakersfield’s Bakersfield is located in Kern County.
Subgroup analysis: Younger consumers
(18-34) are less aware than older consumers.
QC43, QB25. Are you aware that Bakersfield is located in Kern County?
Impression of There is a slightly larger proportion of people who have a more
Location favorable impression of “Kern County” than those who prefer
Descriptions “Greater Bakersfield.” However, the largest proportion of
people do not have a preference between the two labels.
Neither is 25%
Neither is the other
Kern County 43%
QC44, QB26. Which description of the area do you have a more favorable