A decade after its creation, only 30 percent of people surveyed have heard of the "Discover Arlington" marketing effort.
And while Arlington Heights' downtown is still the village's most successful area for business, the community's north side may be an untapped resource.
Those were among the revelations about Arlington Heights consumer habits presented to business owners at Thursday's Economic Alliance meeting. The village paid the Public Research Group $16,500 to conduct the survey and evaluate the successes and failures of how the suburb markets itself.
Nearly 1,700 people living in Arlington Heights and surrounding communities responded to the survey by email, phone or mail, said Tod Staton of Public Research Group. About 70 percent of respondents were female, the average age was between 54 and 61 years old, and a majority have incomes over $65,000, according to the results.
"That leads us to believe there is some disposable income to shop, dine and have a good time in Arlington Heights," Staton said.
But because of the age demographics, he said print media may still be a better way to reach consumers than through online resources and social media.
Staton and business partner David Emanuelson said that the downtown continues to be a viable location for dining and entertainment, with restaurants being the biggest draw.
"Arlington Heights has one of the strongest downtowns I've seen in all of Illinois," Emanuelson said.
However, with 70 percent of respondents saying they weren't familiar with "Discover Arlington," the marketing strategy developed by the village since 2002 to attract consumers, Emanuelson suggests tailoring the message.
For example, the survey showed that 25 percent of respondents visit the north side of town once or twice a week. That should be on village officials' radar as they continue to make planning decisions, Emanuelson said.
"'Discover' speaks more to downtown, so maybe there should be different strategies for different areas. The north and south portions of town might each need to be considered and marketed individually," he added.
According to the survey, the top reasons people said they would choose not to shop in Arlington Heights were parking and a poor mix of stores.
The Economic Alliance will continue to work with Public Research Group on a final survey report and hold a public meeting before making the findings public or making any final decisions about how to change or reinforce the "Discover Arlington" strategy.
"We're constantly evaluating what we do and working to be on the cutting edge of our strategy so it's good to have data to base those decisions on," said Charles Witherington-Perkins, the village's director of planning and community development.