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San Francisco and the surrounding Bay Area markets are often sought out for market research. Specifically, tech companies and product-development companies often look to conduct focus groups in San Francisco because of the relatively young, tech-savvy population who calls the area home. Perhaps not surprisingly, therefore, the Bay Area and Silicon Valley are not broadly representative of the general population in the U.S., making it a unique location to conduct market research studies.

If your company is considering whether to host focus groups in San Francisco or the surrounding areas, we’ll review advantages and disadvantages of conducting market research in this highly specialized market. Let’s start with the advantages of conducting market research in San Francisco, which includes methodologies such as focus groups, in-depth interviews, quantitative research, and ethnographies.

Advantage of Conducting Focus Groups in San Francisco: Young, Affluent Population

San Francisco and the surrounding cities are filled with tech companies: from startups to the well-known behemoths, such as Google, Facebook, and Apple. The abundance of jobs has attracted tens of thousands of young, well-educated workers who make high salaries. The average income for those with a Bachelor’s or higher degree is $86k. The median age is 38.3, though those who work in startups tend to be younger.

What does this mean for research? If you’re looking for product feedback, and young, affluent tech-workers are your key demographic, than San Francisco is a perfect market to conduct focus groups in. There is an abundance of a diverse population to pull from for studies.

Advantage of Conducting Focus Groups in San Francisco: Tech-Savvy and Trend-Aware Population

In addition to having a full population of young, affluent workers, people who live in San Francisco and the surrounding areas are exposed to new ideas, constantly. From ride sharing to apps that connect people with various gig-economy jobs, to self-driving car technologies, San Francisco is the home of disruptive companies that tend to first test locally before going nationwide. This means that even when people don’t work in tech in San Francisco, they live in an ecosystem controlled by apps and technology, so they tend to have higher-awareness about emerging trends, compared to other large urban U.S. centers.

From a research context, if you’re trying to understand if your idea is “sticky” by trend-aware users, then first try out your concept in San Francisco. Feedback from a hyper-aware population can yield forward-looking results for roadmap development.

Now, though there are many advantages to conducting focus groups in San Francisco, there are also some disadvantages. Let’s explore those next.

Disadvantage of Conducting Focus Groups in San Francisco: Less Diverse Industry Representation

Unlike major urban areas in the U.S. such as Chicago, New York, or Houston, San Francisco’s economy is more tilted toward tech; in fact, it’s a fairly homogenous environment, with the major economic power generated by tech companies and the suppliers that support this industry. If your study requires a mix of people who work in various industries, such as finance, manufacturing, insurance, or education, you’re likely better served by conducting research in cities that have robust economies, fueled by diverse industries. This isn’t to say that San Francisco doesn’t also have a diverse workforce, but the overall population tends to be more specialized in tech than other large urban areas.

Disadvantage of Conducting Focus Groups in San Francisco: Fewer Homeowners and Parents

Finally, a second disadvantage to conducting focus groups in San Francisco has to do with the demographics of the residents. The Bay Area is one of the most expensive areas to live in in the U.S., and as a result, only 37.3% of residents in San Francisco own a home (as compared to 67.4% in the U.S.). Additionally, because of the younger population, San Francisco has a smaller percentage of families with children, compared to any other major metropolitan area in the U.S.

If your research involves products aimed at families and home owners, there are other cities that boast higher-levels of home ownership and children per capita.

Whether you want to conduct focus groups in San Francisco or elsewhere, InterQ can handle your project

InterQ is proud to be headquartered in San Francisco, and we love working with some of the world’s most innovative tech companies. However, our research isn’t limited to our location: We conduct research in all U.S. markets, and we have global partnerships for international research. We also work with clients outside of the tech space. If you do want to pursue market research in San Francisco, we have top-notch recruiting and a staff who will ensure your project is a success.

Interested in learning more about market research? Request a proposal today >