The Consumer Wants Less, Not More

We like to use the old adage “Less Is More” around the office here, most often in the context that simplicity and clarity lead to good design. Nevertheless, I can’t help but think it needs to be used a lot more within the greater context of the business of Travel and Outdoor.

Simplicity in design is a result of focus in strategy and not the work of a meditated (or even medicated) art director. When a business strategy is precise and objectives defined, the value proposition of a company’s products and services become reduced to the basic elements of what matters most to the consumer.

This specificity in Outdoor for example creates opportunities to cull product lines because you know what will likely sell. Lululemon has masterfully executed the Less is More strategy by purposefully stocking less inventory than it can keep on its shelves. The yoga brand is booking a record $1,800 in sales per square foot and sells 95% of its gear at full price, all of these strengths are predicated by the company’s visceral knowledge of its target audience and a focused strategy.

Yet, for a couple of industries that like to pride themselves on the now hyperbolic usage of authenticity and experiential, the majority of brands and destinations in Travel and Outdoor do a really bad job of self restraint.

Why?

One possibility would be the notion that by reducing the choices a customer has, you reduce the likelihood that she/he will find something they like and/or the value for which they will pay for it. If you’re under 18, stop reading...ok ready? That’s bullshit.

If you believe the statement above, you’re one of the few people in the world that actually like Chinese-American restaurants. Don’t get me wrong, I'm from San Francisco and now live in Montana, so I have a unique appreciation and love for both foods but they don’t belong on the same menu.

Consumers don’t want or need more, they would be happier with less, particularly in Travel and Outdoor. For example, when a country or a resort conserves 95% of its land and only develops the remaining 5%; guests and buyers don’t complain that you should have built more or you should charge less because there’s not 3,000 more rooms. Instead, they actually like you more and more importantly, they’ll pay more for it.

It’s not the traditional approach but come on folks it's not a horse race, it’s a marathon.

Alexi Huntley Khajavi

@alexihk

Alexi has played nearly every position in the travel industry since earning a B.A. in anthropology from the University of California. He has worked in communications for a tour operator, managed marketing at a pioneering travel startup in the nineties, championed sustainable tourism development at Naturegate, and helped rebuild Nature Air into one of Central America’s fastest growing companies.

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