Image of Greater Bakersfield Research Conducted by Cogent Research, Cambridge, Massachusetts Executive Summary 18 Overall Perceptions of Bakersfield are consistent across both consumers Overall Perception of and businesses. The largest proportion of consumers and Perception of Bakersfield businesses in fact have no impression of Bakersfield. In Bakersfield addition, those with unfavorable views outweigh those with favorable views. CONSUMERS CONSUMERS BUSINESS BUSINESS Very favorable Very favorable 3% Very 6% Very unfavorable unfavorable Somewhat Somewhat 14% 14% favorable favorable 17% 14% Somewhat Somewhat unfavorable unfavorable 28% 28% Neither Neither unfavorable unfavorable nor favorable nor favorable 39% 38% 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 favorable.” 19 Overall Among both groups, perceptions of Fresno are similar to Overall Perception of perceptions of Bakersfield. Perceptions of Los Angeles are Perception of Other Cities slightly more favorable. Other Cities CONSUMERS CONSUMERS BUSINESS BUSINESS Very favorable Very un- Very 8% favorable Very favorable 9% unfavorable 7% 12% Somewhat Somewhat favorable Somewhat favorable unfavorable Fresno Fresno 19% Somewhat unfavorable 21% 19% 20% Neither Neither unfavorable unfavorable nor favorable nor favorable 35% 38% Very Very favorable Very favorable unfavorable Very 14% 13% 16% unfavorable 22% Los Angeles Los Angeles Somewhat Somewhat favorable Somewhat favorable 23% unfavorable 27% Somewhat 24% unfavorable Neither 21% unfavorable nor favorable Neither 24% unfavorable nor favorable 17% QC3, QB2. What is your overall perception of Fresno, California? QC4, QC3. What is your overall perception of Los Angeles, California? 7 STRATEGIC SUMMARY 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. 8 STRATEGIC SUMMARY 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. 9 STRATEGIC SUMMARY 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 communities. 10 STRATEGIC SUMMARY Restaurants Bakersfield’s restaurants are perceived as being better than those of other communities. The quality of an area’s restaurants is important to tourists. 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. 11 STRATEGIC SUMMARY Perceived Weaknesses of Bakersfield Weather 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. 12 STRATEGIC SUMMARY 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 there. Medical care 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 communities. 13 STRATEGIC SUMMARY 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. Location 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. 14 STRATEGIC SUMMARY Recommendations 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 true strengths. 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. 15 STRATEGIC SUMMARY Tourists • 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. Relocaters • 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 housing. • Promote the friendliness of the people who live in the Bakersfield community. • Concentrate less on promoting Bakersfield’s central location. 16 STRATEGIC SUMMARY Retirees • Educate older consumers about the quality and availability of medical care in Bakersfield. • Promote the affordable cost of living. Businesses • 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 Bakersfield. • Promote Bakersfield’s accessibility to major highways. 24 Awareness of The majority of consumers and business persons are aware that Awareness of Bakersfield’s Bakersfield is located in Kern County. Bakersfield’s Location Location CONSUMERS CONSUMERS BUSINESS BUSINESS Don't know 3% No No 43% 32% Yes 68% Yes 55% Subgroup analysis: Younger consumers (18-34) are less aware than older consumers. QC43, QB25. Are you aware that Bakersfield is located in Kern County? 25 Impression of There is a slightly larger proportion of people who have a more Impression of Location favorable impression of “Kern County” than those who prefer Location Descriptions “Greater Bakersfield.” However, the largest proportion of Descriptions people do not have a preference between the two labels. CONSUMERS CONSUMERS BUSINESS BUSINESS Greater Bakersfield 14% Greater Bakersfield Neither is 25% better than Neither is the other better than Kern County 43% the other 55% 31% Kern County 32% QC44, QB26. Which description of the area do you have a more favorable impression of?
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