I just read an article in today’s New York Times about a recent change in consumer behavior. It seems that — contrary to America’s usual use-it-and-toss-it attitude — people are beginning to hold onto the things they buy for longer. Instead of trading up for the latest technology gizmo every year, or a new car every other year, or a new home every five years, American men and women are deciding that it might be better to hold onto the things in their lives that aren’t broken. And for the things that are broken? Well, maybe it’s time to get them fixed instead of throwing them out and buying new.
Take cars, for example. According to research firm Polk, consumers are holding onto new cars for a record 63.9 months, up 4.5 months from a year ago and 14 percent since the end of 2008. And when used cars are included, the average length of car ownership stands at 52.2 months, also a record. Research also shows that people are upgrading their cellphones on average every 18 months, up from every 16 months just a few years ago.
The point of all this is that there is a golden opportunity out there for businesses that specialize in helping people repair and make their gadgets, gizmos, appliances, cars, homes, and a lot of other things we buy last longer. It seems to me that a business that leverages this opportunity is one that is built to last.