Millennials Demand Functional Luxury

2 Oct, 2017

By Roxie Comstock

High-spending Baby Boomers, floating concrete docks and affordable fiberglass boats built the boating and marina industries we know today. That was then. Today we are facing a serious challenge: as Boomers pass the keys and floating key fobs to the next generation of boaters, who are they passing them to? What do these new boaters want in a marina?

Millennials are the up and coming generation and will make up the bulk of our boating population. They are attracted to a different set of facilities and services than those that once satisfied the Boomers.

The definitions of Millennial vary, but they are generally described as those born from the early 1980s to the early 2000s. At about 80 million souls, they are the largest demographic cohort in U.S. history. Understand their approach to life and you have a window into the future.

In an industry with long-life products made of concrete, things don’t change as rapidly as, say, the fashion industry. Many of our marinas have a simplicity and sameness that is comforting, like turning into a McDonald’s in a strange town on a road trip. You know what to expect.

Normally, fashion trends don’t make a ripple in the marina business, but that is changing. No, we’re not excited to learn the latest fall colors. Rather, the fashion industry is moving toward us.

The marina industry has long emphasized quality, functionality and a satisfying experience at a reasonable price. Millennials are driving us deeper into these basic principles and shifting how we define functionality. A marina considered highly functional 30 years ago would not meet today’s standard. Just as a house built 30 years ago is lacking in the functionality found in most modern homes.

With the advent of the Millennial, product producers and service providers of every kind are paying attention to these same bedrock ideas and shifting their approaches to meet the needs and expectation of our changing market place.

They even have a word for it: “functional luxury.” (Look it up: see discussion at Ogilvy & Mather at www.ogilvy.com/topics/ecommerce/nrfrecap-day-2/.) It’s the next big thing, and the marina industry been doing it for years. Who knew!

Millennials make up 27 percent of the population in America and are more multicultural than the Boomers. Millennials like to be in control and prefer to customize their customer experience. They seek a unique product or service that best fits their needs. Always digitally connected, they effortlessly span multiple communication channels and cross channels. Disney theme parks developed a “Magic Band” that serves as their park ticket and is used to pay for meals: it also allows Disney to track their journey through the park so the company can improve the park experience.

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