Over the last several years, the United States has experienced a range of powerful, transformative, and unexpected demographic shifts. Thanks to the rise of tech economy, employment hubs are springing up across the United States.

Especially with remote work gaining momentum, people are finding work opportunities without needing to travel to the office. Not to mention, places with historically lower population density are beginning to experience more foot traffic relative to historical trends in coastal cities.

Change Is Inevitable

Americans are moving less than they have in history—they’re placing more value on putting down roots in neighborhoods where they have established connections.

“Rootedness has many positive outcomes, such as greater attachment to place and more meaningful social and community connections,” writes Thomas Cooke for Quartz. “These connections to place may then serve to provide social and economic support during periods of economic uncertainty.”

Even more importantly a sense of rootedness helps people stay close to friends and family. If there’s no economic gain from moving to a high cost of living city, why do it? These days, staying put seems to be what’s good for all of us.

This trend is likely to result in neighborhoods across the United States attracting the same populations that would have otherwise moved to major coastal cities.

What the Early Days of COVID-19 Can Teach Us About the Future

Over the last several weeks, many companies have reached out to AdQuick because large cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, and New York City have lost their foot traffic almost overnight. The situation, to many, seems unreal—nobody could have expected that in 2020. With people working from home and remaining quarantined in their homes, the world’s most vibrant cities would shut down to a near standstill.

As the ancient Stoic philosophers would say in tough times is that the only direction to move is forward. And what the last several weeks have revealed is the fortitude of humanity. We persist, in spite of challenges. In times of turmoil, we rise to support one another and focus on what comes next. Our positive spirits can weather unexpected storms.

During this unique time in history, and beyond, brands that invest in advertising will serve a critical role in writing the world’s future narratives. Not to mention, COVID-19 is pushing us to think outside of the box with regards to core business strategies. From this unique and shared life experience, societies around the world will experience ripple effects in the ways that we think about our culture.

One of the judgment calls that brands will likely need to make, as marketers, is how to adjust our tone of voice, narrative, and communication strategies for connecting with audiences. A smart decision that every out of home advertiser can make is to begin exploring new markets outside of major cities.

Soon enough, foot traffic will return—and when it does, we need to be ready to reach people where they are, on their terms, with positive and uplifting messages.

So, which markets should marketers think about reaching beyond Los Angeles, San Francisco, and New York? That question deserves your headspace sooner rather than later.

Learn About These Cities

Here are some of AdQuick’s favorite recommendations to check out and start learning about:

Nashville, Tennessee
Known as the country music center of the United States, Nashville is home to concert venues, museums, a vibrant downtown, and Vanderbilt University’s student population.

Atlanta, Georgia
Atlanta has deep roots in having served a critical role during the Civil War and during the 1960s Civil Rights movement. The Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site is a pillar within the city.

Columbus, Ohio
Columbus has evolved into a hub for students and passionate learners, with a unique mix of trails, museums, a vibrant downtown, and student population.

Tuscon, Arizona
Tuscon is known to be one of the most affordable cities in the United States, home to a large population of university students.

Scottsdale, Arizona
Known as the “spa capital of the world,” Scottsdale’s unique desert climate is home to hundreds of golf courses and miles of hiking trails. With a budding arts scene and restaurants, the City is ideal for people seeking sunshine.

Buffalo, New York
The State of New York has so much more to offer than NYC—and if you’ve ever been to Buffalo, the second largest city in NY, you’ve likely seen why. Buffalo is known for its roots in manufacturing and technology. There are breweries, restaurants, and other local options to check out. Over the last few decades, one of the challenges that Buffalo has experienced is poverty and crime. But New York State has been investing in the region’s infrastructure — demonstrating a commitment to economic development. Keep watch on this city, long-term, to see its rise in the coming Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Salt Lake City, Utah
Salt Lake City is home to a thriving religious community, landmarks, vibrant shops, and an up-and-coming technology sector. It’s a family-friendly hub that includes people of all walks of life who are committed to a peaceful way of life.

Rancho Cucamonga, California
While Rancho Cucamonga is known to be home to only 200,000 people, it is uniquely situated as a midpoint in San Bernardino County, as a hub between the Inland Empire and Los Angeles. Over the years, new real estate construction and economic development activities have picked up, particularly with the creation of a high-end outdoor shopping mall. Explore this gem of a city if you’re looking to attract passersby. Adjacent cities to consider include Rialto, Fontana, Ontario, and Claremont.

Boulder, Colorado
Boulder is home to nature-lovers, a growing tech community, and a rising population of millennial families. With many suburbs, the city attracts a range of people who are passionate about reinvesting in the city’s economy.

Love America’s Cities

The United States has so many incredible places for people to explore. Even if you’re working from home — and it’s not business as usual — and you may not be running active marketing campaigns, now is the time to learn about new cities and explore new possibilities. Because, as a nation, forward is the only direction to go. And when audiences are ready to make their way outdoors again, they’ll be glad to see your presence.

Contributors Statement

This blog post was a collaboration between the AdQuick team. Chris Gadek, John McClung, and Jack Gaylor contributed to this piece. Payton Biddington created the visuals.If you'd like to learn how out of home can work with your unique marketing campaign and business, send a quick email to requests@adquick.com or call (213) 986-6179. We'll reach out with case studies and recommendations tailored to you.


The opinions expressed are those of the authors. This material has been prepared for educational purposes only. Please be sure to consult with your internal team of stakeholders to assess your specific needs before adapting any practices from this blog, as your own.