Connecting with the now consumer

A few weeks ago a video called “Toyota – Future Retail Environment” made its way to my inbox with the subject, “Good Watch.” My curiosity was piqued, so I hit play. The “Now Consumer” was the main focus of this short video, and while it may have been made for the car industry, it absolutely spoke to me, the marine industry and my general love for all things marketing. Historically, many marine dealers have played a waiting game. They wait for the door to swing to show the next potential customer their latest and great inventory. With the evolution of customer shopping habits, this is just bad business. If you’re still playing the waiting game, it is time to get proactive. Create your own destination to draw consumers in. You need to give potential customers a feel of what it is like to be a part of your brand and go the extra mile to make sure it is your business they are talking about with their friends and family. We need to think bigger than the norm and evolve past what we’ve always done and what’s comfortable. In the Toyota video, they consider Barnes & Noble and Amazon, two well-known book companies with one clear winner in overall sales. So, how does Barnes & Noble stay in the game? They adapted to the market. They recognized dipping sales and re-thought their strategy to survive. Picture your local Barnes & Noble: the countless number of people just “loitering” around the store doing homework, reading the latest magazines, letting their kids play while mom and dad drink their Starbucks … wait a minute, this sounds a lot like a destination! There is no way that Barnes & Noble can compete with Amazon head-to-head, but when they stepped away from “just selling books,” they opened up their market to a world of new opportunities. Gordy’s Marine in Fontana, Wis., is the perfect example of how a savvy dealership branched out. It is immediately obvious when you hit their website: they offer boat, SUP and equipment rentals; a pro shop; ski school; a beautiful bar and restaurant; a deli; marina; storage; and by the way, they also sell boats. I had the pleasure of visiting Gordy’s last year with the Wisconsin Marine Association, and this place is like visiting a marine campus. The point is, Gordy’s doesn’t just sell boats, Gordy’s sells an experience that fosters the boating lifestyle. They thought beyond the norm, and they evolved for success by creating their own destination for consumers. When we think how much the world has changed, how technology and the way people shop has changed and their mutual effect on one another, it’s a pretty amazing thing. Now look inward. What have you changed lately to at least keep up with this new consumer-driven world? As a market we need to push the envelope and step out of our comfort zone to reach the consumers and draw them in, we can’t just wait for them. I strongly encourage you to all to watch the Toyota video to spark your own inspiration, it’s truly a “great watch.” Justin Di Vilio is program manager and sales team lead for ARI’s marine and RV divisions.

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  1. Justin,

    Nice post and good information. Thanks! I just wanted to point out that Bass Pro Shops is another excellent example of the store as a destination marketing model. People go there just to see all the cool stuff…oh yea, while I’m here I’ll get that fishing, or hunting, or camping gear I need. Great Concept!

  2. Tony, YES, Bass Pro Shops is the best! Been doing it for a long time. I still see very few industries/companies that have done what Bass has done. Incredible to see. (maybe Harley Davidson stores)

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