Consumer boom?

Three different themes to consumption growth recently in the news point to a  boom in consumer spending in diverse areas and aspects.

A literal boom in a niche market called "war-zone tourism" is highlighted in a report in the Financial Times. A leading operator in a segment of the market that is War Zone Tours with a website that features sound clips that unfailingly are a part of war movies but normally unlikely to spur tourism. Yet, as the FT notes, in the five years since its launch has attracted a growing crowd of middle-aged businessmen who earn in excess of $100,000 per year with its ascendance sparking an expected set of new players. Left unclear is what kind of hotels are on tap in places like Somalia a "destination" for WZT's wealthy patrons.

On a far more substantial level in terms of consumer potential is a recent survey put out by New York based BBMG and Globescan  "the rise of nearly 2.5 billion consumers globally who are
uniting style, social status and sustainability values to redefine
consumption." Entitled the 2013 Apirational Consumer Index,  the report notes that "more than one-third of consumers globally (36.4%) identify as
Aspirationals, defined by their love of shopping (78%), desire for
responsible consumption (92%) and their trust in brands to act in the
best interest of society (58%).

The study drew from a telephone and
in-person survey of 21,492 consumers across 21 international markets
conducted in April 2013. Most tellingly, it pointed to the rise of an astounding 2.5 billion consumers. Some interesting and arguably unexpected findings include the stat that "nearly six in ten Aspirational consumers globally say they “trust global
companies to act in the best interest of society”
, a notion that appears to go against received wisdom in the West.

Hot off the press is an intriguing by "independent and opinionated trend firm" Trendwatching breifing entitled "Guilt Free Consumption". The report appears to be a riposte to the "current, epic quest for more aware, more ethical, more sustainable consumerism." Trendwatching rightly notes that it has thus become completely impossible for any individual in
near- and fully mature consumer societies to claim ignorance over the
havoc his or her consumption is and has been wreaking. And yet, "consumers are now hungry for a new kind of consumption, one that
will allow them to continue to enjoy consumption, yet not worry (or at
least worry less) about its negative impact." It may give some pause perhaps to organizations across industries that have been beating the drum on "sustainable" consumption.

Published by

Vijay Dandapani

Co-founder and president of a New York based hotel company for 24 years. Grew the firm to five hotels in Manhattan and also developed a greenfield project at MacArthur airport, New York. Speaker at numerous prestigious forums including Economy Hotels World Asia, Lodging Conference, NYU, Columbia University Real Estate Roundtable, Baruch College's Zicklin School and ALIS. President and ceo of New York City Hotel Association since January 2017.