Believe the Hype
Despite persistent economic and reimbursement challenges, favorable demographics continue to drive mostly strong sales throughout the scooter market. The much-hyped Baby Boomer Generation is a real phenomenon that sees one person turn 65 every 10 seconds in America—a staggering 8,640 per day.
Warmer than usual weather this year, plus a growing acceptance of scooters throughout society, adds up to decent numbers. “Mild winter conditions had more consumers out and about instead of confined to their homes in the late winter months,” says Cy Corgan, director of retail mobility sales for Pride Mobility Products Corp. “Plus, providers have increased consumer awareness through referral-based marketing, direct marketing programs and increased advertising.”
Michelle Mikitish, sales manager for Pride Mobility, emphasizes that market success demands a focus on retail and scooter sales as a profit center, and not as a mere afterthought. “Those who are willing to employ new and creative marketing strategies to drive consumer awareness on a consistent basis also drive more traffic to their showroom, and ultimately, more sales,” she says. “Use a store ‘planogram’ to lay out the showroom in an efficient and visually appealing manner. Use manufacturer merchandising materials to highlight products, and as an educational tool for consumers.”
“More and more dealers are focusing on retail sales as a way to increase their scooter business, and it’s working. Although the scooter industry has changed, it is gaining strength.”
Scooters fall into the Medicare, private insurance and cash market categories, with cash representing the largest opportunity these days. In the cash market space, a feature-rich product attracts consumer attention.
According to Corgan, stylish looks, combined with an easy-to-use delta tiller, quick disassembly, crush-proof basket and a comfortable seat all deliver desirable benefits. “The cash market for high-performance products with 13-inch drive tires, full suspension, high-back adjustable seats and top speeds of up to 10 mph is growing,” he says. “Consumers love the idea of being able to get wherever it is that they want to go.”
Executives at Golden Technologies in Old Forge, Pa., report that scooter sales are up in 2012, with HME providers finding a home for all sizes and categories. “More and more dealers are focusing on retail sales as a way to increase their scooter business, and it’s working,” says Jason Davis, vice president of sales for Golden Technologies. “Although the scooter industry has changed, it is gaining strength. Scooters are purchased through all avenues, including cash retail, Medicare and private insurance, but I think we will see significant growth in the retail and rental markets in the future.”
Since retail is not bound by a reimbursement amount, Davis maintains that profits are possible if the right features are offered. “Dealers can make solid margins by showing all of the bells and whistles on a scooter, such as the LiquiCell gel comfort technology in our Companion line,” he says. “Aesthetics are also a major variable in retail sales. Who would want to buy a product that has an institutional look when they can purchase a modern, appealing scooter? A scooter is a reflection of the end user’s personality, as well as what they need in a mobility product.”
Many consumers who choose to bypass Medicare and purchase scooters with cash are willing to spend a little more for quality products. Jeff Hollander, sales and marketing director for Ranger All-Season, counts on this mentality while emphasizing the maintenance-free aspects of his products.