As our industry recovers from the deep recession that we are told is now over, an emerging trend in consumer behavior dubbed ‘Transumerism’ seems to be becoming more prevalent in our society. The best definition that I could find was on trendwatching.com.
“TRANSUMERS are consumers driven by experiences, by entertainment, by discovery, by fighting boredom, who increasingly live a transient lifestyle, freeing themselves from the hassles of permanent ownership and possessions. The fixed is replaced by an obsession with the here and now, an ever-shorter satisfaction span, and a lust to collect as many experiences and stories as possible. Transumers are driven more by experiences rather than the desire to own.”
Examples of this trend can be seen with the growing popularity of Zipcars – represented by those who choose to forego ownership of cars, similar to SailTime and Freedom Boat Club in our industry. Women today can also actually rent handbags from companies like Bag, Borrow or Steal. I doubt seriously that Zipcars will have a major impact on any of the automakers, nor do I think women will stop buying handbags, but it is important to understand that such niches exist and thrive in today’s marketplace.
This growing concept of transumerism doesn’t conclude that transumers aren’t open to ownership. Rather, it means that ownership alone is not enough. Consumers today want to own AND experience. I’d bet many dealers can extol the benefits of their rendezvous initiatives and their impact on non-owners. Just look at the wildly successful Aquapalooza (Sea Ray) or Summer Sailstice events.
Discover Boating plans to leverage the power and experiences of current owners to help us invite non owners to the joys of boating. This strategy proved successful for us in our “I Discovered Boating” photo contest in 2009. We invited boaters to enter videos or photographs of their boating experiences. Three hundred entered photos, while more than 100,000 visitors came to our site to view these entries!
We know that 93% of owners enjoy inviting others to share the boating experience.* A yet-to-be-released study on the influence of marketing communications on boat ownership conducted late this summer by Foresight Communications tells us that 60% of first- time buyers were highly influenced by advice from friends, while 45% of current owners were highly influenced by friends. For new owners, this was the highest-ranked factor; for current owners, it secured a top-three ranking.
Bottom line – promoting the boating lifestyle while ramping up efforts in building the desire to own by leveraging boater experiences will help us capitalize on the growing trend of Transumerism.
*Source: OLSON/e-Rewards Online Survey and OLSON Qualitative Research.
Carl Blackwell is chief marketing officer and vice president of marketing & communications for the NMMA.