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Local marketplace profiles provide service to businesses

BY KEVIN SVEC | FEBRUARY 18, 2014 5:00 AM

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Useful marketing research for Iowa City businesses will now be available with a simple click.

Iowa City officials have utilized a research tool to gather information for online profiles composed of marketing information for Iowa City commercial neighborhoods.

The Iowa City Marketplace Profiles are based on a Geographic Information System marketing research tool from the Environmental Systems Research Institute, which summarizes consumer information in a one-mile radius of downtown Iowa City. The GIS tool focuses on consumer behavior and the types of households in the surrounding area.

This project began last year but officially launched Feb. 14. The tool is primarily used to help determine if a new business is feasible in a certain areas.

“The Iowa City Marketplace Profiles allows the city to get data from consumers to help businesses get going,” said Tracy Hightshoe, an Iowa City community-development planner.

The profiles have reported consumer information for 10 Iowa City commercial neighborhoods: downtown Iowa City, Hargrave, Hartwig, North Side Marketplace, North Dodge HyVee, Olde Towne Village, Pepperwood, Riverfront Crossings, and Towncrest.

For example, the profile for downtown counted a census population of 24,151 people, 8,291 households, $22,093 median income, and a per capita income of $18,159 — information that would be relevant to an up-and-coming entrepreneur or an existing business looking to expand.

“Marketing intelligence is highly valued; it offers insight to new business to see if a market exists,” said Nancy Quellhorst, the president and CEO of the Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce. “This information can also help reaffirm extension projects for existing businesses.”

The program can also determine trends relating to the consumer’s necessities such as food, computers, and cell phones. With this information, the program can take a marketing-potential index, which measures likelihood of people in the specified area to exhibit certain consumer behavior or purchasing patterns.

Another method to determine consumer behavior in downtown area is to graph the foot traffic in the busiest area of the district. In this case, the 100 block of East College Street on the Pedestrian Mall typically sees the most traffic during normal business hours.

The study counts the number of people seen in the area and the peak hours of the day, typically the lunch hours from noon to 2 p.m. and 4 to 5 p.m., when people return from work or class.

The Marketplace Profiles can also serve as a powerful tool for students at the UI interested in starting or researching a business.

Peggy Rodriguez-Stover, the director for undergraduate marketing institute at the University of Iowa Tippie College of Business, said students looking to begin their entrepreneurial plans could utilize the profiles.

“It would depend on the project, but if it was based in a local setting, the Marketplace Profiles would be a great tool,” she said.


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