Meet Customers Where They Are
by David Klemt
If news stories are to be believed, Americans are fleeing big, expensive cities en masse.
Are those stories accurate or examples of sensationalism?
The pandemic is, without any doubt, reshaping the United States. It is, in fact, transforming any nation on which it has gained a significant foothold.
Several sources claim that a mass exodus to the suburbs and rural towns is taking shape across America.
The authors of these stories often cite survey results, housing and rental price fluctuations, financial struggles and the cost of living in many cities, and anecdotal “evidence” to make their points.
On its face, just the argument that cities like Los Angeles and New York City are too expensive to live in with so many people struggling financially makes sense. And stories about astronomically high rent compared to square footage and median income in dense, expensive cities are commonplace.
Still other stories tell tales of the wealthy migrating from major cities to “wait out” the pandemic.
Since wealthy people have the means, they’re able to leave densely populated areas for destinations with smaller populations. The logic being, the less people in an area, the lower risk of infection.
There are reports referring to NYC as a “ghost town” and describing San Francisco as a shell of its former densely-populated, well-heeled self.
Again, much of the reporting is supported by anecdotal and social media “evidence.”
Eric Martel, a Forbes Councils Member, analyzed U-Haul Migration Index (UMI) and uncovered some interesting data. Martel finds that net migration in San Francisco and Los Angeles is lower—significantly so in LA—than it was in 2018. In NYC, net migration looks higher.
More reasonable conclusions regarding Americans and the pandemic seem to be:
- Large numbers of people have moved out of some major cities. NYC seems to be a good example.
- Some of the wealthy have temporarily left highly-populated cities, choosing to stay in places normally considered vacation destinations for longer periods of time.
- People appear to be moving toward the outskirts of larger cities where rent and prices tend to be lower than that of city centers.
- Suburbs near the outskirts of major cities appear to be popular migration targets.
- Some of this “migration” is temporary, driven by the ability to work remotely. It’s likely that some people who have moved out of cities will return when they perceive things have returned to “normal.”
Jack Li, co-founder and CEO of Datassential, suggests operators check out so-called second-tier cities—Austin, Nashville and Charlotte, for example—and the areas where cities meet suburbs. The reasons are simple:
- Innovation and food trends tend to start cities, reaching rural areas last. That means second-tier cities, city outskirts, and suburbs are quicker to embrace trends and innovations. (Location.)
- Less-expensive commercial real estate prices. (Cost.)
- Potential increase in the number of families. (Customer density.)
- Potential increase in the number of seniors with financial means. (Customer density.)
The impact the pandemic has had makes informed decisions that much more critical to success in this industry. Demographic and feasibility studies are more important now than ever.
Both are cornerstones of the KRG Hospitality approach, whether an operator has several years’ experience or is a neophyte. Click here to learn more about how KRG Hospitality can help you and your concept, click here to learn about KRG Momentum coaching, and click here to download the KRG 2021 Start-up Cost Guide & Checklist.