Test Market, U.S.A.

If you like fast food and live in Columbus, Ohio, you are in luck. Chains such as McDonald’s, Panera Bread, Chipotle, White Castle, Taco Bell, Starbucks, and Wendy’s use the Ohio capital as a test market for new products. This has been the case for several decades and has earned Columbus the nickname “Test Market, USA”. Food cult classics such as McDonald’s McRib, Wendy’s Pretzel Burger, or Taco Bell’s Spicy Doritos Locos Taco would not have come to fruition if Columbus residents didn’t give the thumbs up. Columbus is perfect because the city is pure “middle-America”. Middle-America doesn’t just refer to the location in the center of the United States, but also the fact that the city’s demographics mirror that of the United States. The city is a microcosm for the entire country. The city is also home to the Ohio State University, one of the largest universities in the country. This guarantees a recurring population of prospective young customers. College students are also notorious for documenting their thoughts on social media sites, which in turn influences future consumer behaviors. There is also a diverse, international presence within Central Ohio. This helps restaurants evaluate trends among various cultures. Due to all of these factors, many chains have chosen Columbus for their restaurant’s headquarters. White Castle, Max and Erma’s, Bob Evans, Wendy’s, Piada Italian Street Food, Bravo Cucina Italiana, Brio Tuscan Grille, Tim Hortons’ (U.S. Headquarters), and Charley’s Grilled Subs are all headquartered in the Columbus area.