With 650,000 potential customers in the city proper and more than 7.6 million residing in “Greater Boston,” Boston is a prime location to reach new and potential consumers. However, before you leap into the market with the assumptions that Boston is just like the nation’s other big cities (or even like its New York or DC neighbors), there are seven key things you should understand about the Boston residents and the city they call home. These considerations should be kept in mind when creating your marketing campaigns, developing creative, and choosing where to advertise.
1. IT’S MORE THAN JUST AN ACCENT.
Though the “wicked awesome” accent is pretty accurate, many Bostonians agree that advertisers should be extremely careful in how much (or even how little) they should use it. While the thick “r’s” and the broad “a’s,” are a point of pride and a way to distinguish natives from out-of-towners, it should be used in a natural way that uses self-deprecating humor at a minimum.
More importantly to a listener is the pronunciation of several locations and landmarks and the dialogue used. For example, audiences will surely be turned off by a mispronunciation of the towns of Woburn or Peabody. Bostonians will also be confused if the infamous “Pike” is referred to by its real designation: I-90. Anything else comes across as inauthentic and signals that the advertiser knows little about their city.
2. THE COMMUTE IS A DAILY STRUGGLE.
In 2013, the Urban Mobility report ranked Boston the fifth worst city for traffic congestion with most Boston commuters spending over an hour in their car commuting. For advertisers, this means that placing money in radio or billboards could pay off big. Car-centric businesses such as dealerships, food on the go, and even gas stations can also benefit from commuters culture.
3. BOSTON TRADITION IS A REAL THING.
Unlike many large cities, Boston has a very personal and prideful identity. Bostonians love their sports teams. The Sox; the B’s, the C’s and the Pat’s. They love St. Patrick’s Day and line the streets of Southie for the St. Patrick’s Day parade. They are “Boston Strong” and love to hate New York. Boston consumers hold their city near and dear to their hearts and with that comes routine, tradition and tremendous loyalty. Advertisers should become educated on what their target demographics watch and listen such as their favorite radio or news station or their favorite sports teams—to better understand where marketing money should be invested.
4. ART AND CULTURE THRIVE.
In addition to being known for its aggressive drivers and its loyalty to the hometown sports teams, Boston is also a city of intellectuals and artists. Open-air farmers markets are a frequent warm weather pastime as are world renowned festivals such as the Boston Globe Blues and Jazz Festival and the Boston Film Festival. Newbury Street in particular is home to art galleries, book and craft stores, and trendy restaurants. This rich, cultural city responds well to those advertisers and businesses that seek to interact with them on a higher, more thoughtful level.
5. HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF COLLEGE STUDENTS CALL BOSTON “HOME.”
Greater Boston plays campus to more than 60 schools and 240,000 students ranging from popular junior colleges, art and music schools, and the top university in the world—Harvard. With this, Boston is the epitome of gold mine for businesses eager to build upon the coveted millennial market. The college student demographic are frequent spenders, active (especially at outdoor and sporting events), and loyal customers to brands and stores that they discover.
6. THE MEDIA FOOTPRINT IS WORTH THE INVESTMENT.
Advertising in Boston doesn’t just stay in Boston. It encompasses three states (Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire), and it straddles other major metropolitan areas such as Providence and Worcester. Purchasing larger campaigns that advertise in Greater Boston means that your message will not just be heard by those in the core area, but also in large potential target areas. Boston truly brings savvy advertisers more bang for their buck.
7. BOSTON IS NOT NEW YORK.
While it is easy to compare Boston to its giant neighbor to the south, New York, Bostonians will be first to tell you otherwise. Starting with the sporting rivalry that cursed the beloved Red Sox for nearly a hundred years, the distaste for the Big Apple runs deep. Advertisers should be aware to keep New York City references out of the town if it wants to avoid controversy and be true to Boston pride.
As you can see, Boston is a unique, traditional city that offers great opportunities for educated and adaptable advertisers and business owners. Investing advertising and marketing time in this city may mean developing an audience ready to listen, interact, and be loyal to those who understand their distinct history and culture.