County retail study states impact of seasonal residents not to be overlookedSeasonal residents could play a key part in Carlton County’s retail business activity, expansion and marketing efforts.
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
Seasonal residents could play a key part in Carlton County’s retail business activity, expansion and marketing efforts.
In summarizing the recent Carlton County-sponsored Retail Market Analysis Report before the Economic Development Authority (EDA) on Monday and Moose Lake business leaders on Tuesday, Extension Educator John Bennett stressed that the retail impact of seasonal residents should not be overlooked.
“Carlton County’s seasonal residents contribute a lot to the economy and they are not a group you want to forget about,” said Bennett.
He explained that while most part-time seasonal residents own or rent homes in the lakes area of Moose Lake and Sturgeon Lake, it is likely they travel to the Cloquet trade area for certain goods and services as well.
Over the past few months, the University of Minnesota Extension Service created market area profiles of both the Cloquet and Moose Lake trade areas to assist the county in developing its retail and service sectors on many different levels. Bennett explained the profiles contain information regarding demographic information, customer types and market potential for the two trade areas and identify those who are likely to be the most profitable consumers.
Bennett explained part of the study showed that of the county’s 1,469 seasonal residents, for example, some 94 percent hail from within the state of Minnesota, primarily from the northwest suburbs of the Twin City metro area, with an average household income of $103,309.
Further, he pointed out the study showed that spending by seasonal residents is estimated to approach $26 million each year in the Moose Lake trade area alone, with most concentrated in the areas of groceries and liquor, motorized sports, banking/insurance/real estate and building supplies.
The retail report stated that seasonal residents are very different from local customers, tending to be frequent vacation travelers and involved in a wide range of leisure activities, including such things as adult education, photography and dining. They often exhibit “moderate radio listenership with higher-than-average interest in news, talk and sports formats,” the report concluded, and “fairly heavy newspaper readership” with a strong interest in business content.
“It stands to reason, then, that when you want to reach some of these families [with your marketing and advertising messages],” Bennett pointed out, “newspapers are likely a good way to do it.”
According to the study, the most predominant lifestyle segment of the county’s seasonal population represents some 209 households and is profiled as “urban escapees” with a median age of 38.3 years and a median home value of $268,921. They represent the top market of all those surveyed to own three or more vehicles, primarily minivans and full-sized SUVs and tend to do their own lawn and landscaping work as well as home improvement and remodeling projects.
“These demographics should be used to inform local businesses on how they can meet [seasonal residents’] needs,” the report concluded. “Any marketing strategy should be developed with their buying habit and lifestyles in mind.”
In summarizing the findings on the Cloquet trade area, Bennett stated that the study found the largest lifestyle segment – 5,342 households or 21.4 percent – can be classified as residents living in suburban fringe areas and having a median age of 40.7 years. They tend to be married couples, some with and some without children, having a median household income of $65,074 and a median home value of $197,519. Most are do-it-your-selfers and like to take care of their own lawns and gardens as well. Vehicles of choice for homeowners in this top lifestyle group are full-sized pickup trucks and motorcycles, and for exercise these residents are most likely to ride their bikes and go water skiing, canoeing and kayaking, and they enjoy such things as power boating, hunting and attending auto races.
Bennett explained such information can be useful in identifying retail business opportunities in the Carlton County area and targeting potential market gaps ripe for future business growth or expansion.
Among the primary opportunities identified in the Cloquet market area were general merchandise (such as Cabela’s), home improvement centers, clothing (especially kids and family), travel and entertainment businesses and motorcycle, boat and other motor vehicle sales and repair.
“We are not interested in bringing in competitors for local businesses already in great supply in this trade area,” qualified Bennett. “Instead, we’re trying to target areas of high demand where the current supply is low.”
A public review session will be held in coming weeks at the Cloquet Forestry Center to allow area residents and business people to go over the material in the retail analysis study. The exact time and place will be announced in a future issue of the Pine Journal as soon as it is available.