While the bustling crowds and smiling faces indicate the popularity of downtown’s Pearl Market, Capital Crossroads SID commissioned an assessment of the Pearl Market customer base to help with planning for the future. OrangeBoy, Inc. conducted the research into the customer base and offered recommendations for improvements to the Market.
The study incorporated a variety of techniques and was conducted through the early part of the summer. Interviewers spoke with Pearl Market shoppers and those in the area who were not shopping at the Market. In addition, an online survey was conducted, observations of customer activity and experience were made, and interviews were completed with vendors, employers and real estate developers.
A profile of the average Pearl Market shopper emerged: a female, aged 45 - 54, a downtown worker who eats out for lunch often, and who has a household income of $100,000 - $149,000. She usually visits the Market with a friend once a week, spending $10 - $20 per visit on produce and other food items. She enjoys the vendors, staff and the purchasing process.
The popularity of the Market is grounded in its food offerings. Respondents of all kinds highlighted their desire for produce and food products as opposed to the non-food vendor merchandise. This information will inform future decisions regarding vendor mix in the Market. Shoppers also appreciate the ease of purchase, price and product selection.
Even non-shoppers and online respondents were quite familiar with Pearl Market, with many indicating that they visit a few times per season. Shoppers tended to be drawn in simply by walking by or hearing about the Market from friends.
Some suggestions from OrangeBoy for future improvements include offering a loyalty program to keep shoppers coming back and recommending the Market to others; increasing visibility of the Market on the street through interactive and/or whimsical signs; carefully planning placement of vendors, spreading produce vendors throughout the Market; and trying build some scarcity into the event through a shorter season, shorter hours or possibly different vendor mixes on Tuesday and Friday.
The Market is a labor of love for Capital Crossroads staff, so reading some of the positive comments generated through the survey process was rewarding. One respondent noted, “I love supporting all things 614” and another praised the research effort, noting, “Love that you are seeking input to better an already great event.”