Timeshare Resales: the Store Brand of Timeshare
Friday, March 15, 2013
The following look at timeshare resales is from an article published by The Resort Trades (March 2013). In the article we look at how consumers have already changed their feeling about generic or ‘store brand’ products through a generation of familiarization with the concept, thanks primarily to your local grocery store. As you will read, when consumers grow more comfortable with an idea in one application, that comfort level spills over into other buying decisions they will make.
Thank you to The Resort Trades for permission to publish this article here on The Timeshare Authority blog. You can also read this and other timely news about timeshare and vacation ownership in print in the March edition of the magazine or online at The Resort Trades March 2013.
Are resales becoming the ‘store brand’ of timeshare?
by Jason Tremblay
Consumer confidence is higher – or lower – depending upon which report you read. Regardless of whether people believe the economy is trending up or down, the average consumer has, thanks to plenty of practice in recent years, become a price-conscious shopper.
While ten years ago, only 8 percent of shoppers regularly purchased generic or store brands, today, 97 percent of U.S. households buy store brand (also called private label, or generic) products on a regular basis. And it stands to reason that if the average family has grown comfortable with buying generic for the household products they use and the food they feed their children, then they are growing just as comfortable buying timeshare from a reseller as they are from the branded hospitality provider. They understand that the contents inside the can haven’t changed, just the pricing and the packaging.
Shoppers have come to recognize over the years that a store brand is likely to be manufactured by the same company that makes the branded label product. While generic vs. brand is not always an apples to apples comparison, and some branded products are higher in quality than their store brand counterparts, consumers are no longer hesitant to check out the store brand, do their own comparison, and determine for themselves whether they want to buy name brands or go generic.
When it comes to timeshare and vacation ownership sold on the secondary market, the vacation product being offered is often identical to the timeshare a family would purchase from a developer. When timeshare companies hold back certain perks and privileges that do not transfer to the resale buyer, the difference may matter to the consumer, but oftentimes a resale buyer is willing to forego some resort or vacation club membership benefits in order to realize the savings inherent in buying on the secondary market.
Blame the banks, the mortgage companies, elected officials or the swinging pendulum of fate, the causes of the recent recession don’t matter nearly as much as the changes that have ensued in its wake. Consumers have evolved. They have changed dramatically in their buying habits and spending patterns. When it comes to selling vacation ownership to consumers, the timeshare industry can no longer party (or market) like it’s 1999.
Store brand creep
Accepting that store brands and name brands can live compatibly on the shelves together would be a positive step forward for the timeshare industry. But if timeshare buying continues to parallel trends in other buying sectors, living in harmony may not be enough.
In the 1970s, when generic or store brands first began to make their way into the marketplace, they showed up in plain white labels, with black lettering and no photos or graphics on the can. However since that time, creep has occurred. Slowly, without consumers even realizing it has happened, store brands have taken over larger and larger segments of the marketplace.
Not only do generic brands now look as fresh and appealing in their packaging as do their name-brand competitors, but they are being carried by even upscale retailers. For example, the 365™ label is the store brand of the upmarket natural food chain, Whole Foods, and is used for products that range from goat cheese to pesto sauce.
Other retailers are promoting generics in multiple tiers, marketing both a basic store brand and a premier store brand, indicating that the generic concept is strong enough to support competition within its own ranks without risking brand cannibalization.
The popular grocery chain retailer Kroger sees store branding as so significant to its success that the company has launched a five-year plan to revamp its approach to generic products, seeking to eliminate any stigma still associated with them, while concurrently being more responsive to the desires of the consumer. The company has gone so far as to create a fictional consumer named “Maria” so that it can better direct its marketing efforts to appealing precisely to Maria’s shopping patterns and preferences.
The creeping influx of private label products has even transcended the one benefit for which generics were first launched, that of price. For many retailers the store brand or private label product is no longer the cheapest product on the shelf, but now competes in other ways, and remarkably holds its own. The appeal of generic brands extends beyond that of price.
Timeshare resales at the online mall
Price matters, whether it is ten cents saved on a can of tomato soup or thousands of dollars saved by buying a resale timeshare. However, consumers buy timeshares as resales not only because of the money they save, but because they like the simplicity of buying online. Online shoppers find it convenient to research products, reflect on their options, engage current owners in conversation, and generally exercise the types of control that make a person feel that his or her decision to buy has been wisely made.
Online, it is easy to compare prices and amenities from one resort to another or one timeshare company to the next, especially when multiple resort properties are aggregated on a single resale website. This feature of buying secondary market timeshare online is becoming more important all the time. When the world was a smaller place, creating and maintaining brand identity was an easier task.
In a typical day, via print and electronic sources, most people are now exposed to no fewer than 1,000 brand messages with the number often reaching as high as 3,000 to 5,000 brand exposures per person, per day. Yet when asked to recall the most memorable new brand they saw promoted over the past year, more than half of all adults are stumped to recall even one new product by name. Well-organized websites featuring multiple timeshare brands help consumers sort through the brand overload from which we all suffer.
In 1974, many grocers thought that discount-priced black and white label generic products would be short lived, in the same way that 25 years later, bookstore owners saw Amazon.com as a fad that would pass. Secondary market timeshare, with all its positives, and all its problems, isn’t going away.
We, as industry professionals, are challenged to offer new collaborative solutions that developers, resellers and consumers will embrace. The timeshare industry must find its “Maria” and listen carefully to what she really wants. Together, we can take what’s working about the resale market and use it as a platform to strengthen the vacation ownership product.
Our thanks to The Resort Trades for permission to reprint this article.