First the good news: spending on leisure-time entertainment is up.
An eight-year review of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics annual Consumer Expenditures Survey (CEX) found that Americans continue to spend a healthy portion of their paychecks on leisure time activities.
In fact, overall leisure time entertainment expenditures rank 1st among discretionary spending categories, ahead of apparel, personal care products, alcoholic beverages and reading.
According to the Wall Street Journal, that number rose by 5.1% in the last year for which the survey numbers were released.
Now the bad news: spending on leisure-time entertainment outside the home is down.
When you take out the money Americans spend on leisure time entertainment products like flat screen TVs, DVD players and video games, guess what happens?
The amount people spend away from home on leisure time entertainment actually declined 6.4% in the last year of the study.
Spending on what the government classifies as “Other entertainment equipment and services”, which includes everything from exercise equipment and running shoes to boats and campers declined by 2.8%.
Expenditures for leisure-time entertainment over the 8-year period actually declined an average of 16%.
And that number increases to 37% for wage earners in the lowest 20% of the population.
Even among the nation’s s highest wage earners, leisure-time entertainment expenditures made outside the home were flat during this same period.
What does this mean if you’re the marketer of a travel or leisure brand ?
It means that even before the Great Recession hit, Americans were shifting their leisure-time habits.
They are finding more and more ways to entertain themselves in or close to home. And they’re spending less and less of their discretionary income on leisure entertainment options away from home.
Another way to look at this change in behavior is that your biggest competition is no longer other leisure brands. Your biggest competition is now your customer’s couch.
What can you do to keep your travel or leisure brand relevant in this age of cocooning couch potatoes?
- First, you need to recognize that your competition isn’t other hotels or destinations. It’s the big screen TV or video game or computer at home.
- Second, you need to show how your brand does something they can’t get at home.
- Ask yourself, “What does our brand offer that our guests can’t get at home?
- Is it a better 3D experience, with better sights, sounds and smells no video game can match?
- Are you giving families the opportunity to grow closer? A couple the chance to rekindle their romance? The adventure of a lifetime?
- Whatever you’re selling, it has to be something better, bigger, more exciting than what they can watch on their home theater, their video game console or find on the internet.
What’s worked for you? What hasn’t? Tell us about it.