3 Reasons Why Columbus, Ohio is the Retail Test Market Hub of the US

Written by Todd Spencer, Lee & Associates Columbus


Have you ever wondered how your favorite retailer or restaurant found the perfect new item for their store or menu? The truth is they probably released a handful of items in a test market before they ever rolled out that product to you. There are many different factors companies consider when testing products, two of the most important being where they test the product and who they test it on.  

It may not be widely known outside of Columbus, but major retailers and restaurants have been test marketing new products here for years prior to going to the broader market. Why Columbus, Ohio of all places? 

Three of the main reasons companies choose to test products in Columbus include: 

Columbus is comprised of a diverse set of young, well-educated people. While it’s widely known that Columbus is home to The Ohio State University, did you know that the city is also home to over 50 college and university campuses that are filled with 135,000+ students and graduate 20,000 annually Many of these out of state and international graduates are staying in Columbus due to its rapidly growing economy, low cost of living and high quality of life. According to Central Ohio’s economic development organization, The Columbus Region, the city has the 8th highest millennial concentration in the US. 

Alex Kuniegaaassociate in our Lee & Associates Columbus office and a recent alumnus of The Ohio State University, said “Columbus is the ideal place to test new products. The demographics here are a good cross section of the United States. If it is successful here, chances are it will be successful in other markets across the country”. 

Companies looking to test new products are seeking a diverse consumer base willing and financially able to try new items, Columbus’ uniquely young and educated demographic provides the ideal proving ground 

Unparalleled Access to Markets. Once a product has been deemed a success, the next step is getting the product out to other markets. The Columbus Region boasts that the city offers greater access to the US population than any other major metro, with 46% being within a 10-hour drive.  

Economic diversity allows for continued stability. When economic stability is in question, retailers become hesitant to expand in new markets. One of Columbus’ most distinctive attributes is how diversified their economy is, no one industry accounts for more than 18% of employment.  In addition to being the state capital of OhioColumbus is home of the some of the world’s most recognizable brands such as Scotts Miracle-Gro, Express, Victoria’s Secret, Wendy’s, DSW, Honda of America, JPMorgan Chase, Nationwide, and Abercrombie & Fitch. These large corporations along with innovative small businessespowerhouse research groups, and thriving academic institutions, have allowed the region to experienced strong economic growth, ensuring a vibrant future for the people and companies of Central Ohio. 

If you’re considering Columbus, Ohio for your company’s headquarter relocation or opening a new location in the Midwest’s fastest-growing metropolitan area and the premier test market, contact Lee & Associates Columbus for market insight and additional information to ensure a seamless process.