Matt Ouimet: Consumers prioritizing experiences over possessions

Posted Wednesday, March 16, 2016 2:26 PM | Contributed by Jeff

Cedar Fair CEO Matt Ouimet appeared on Jim Cramer's Mad Money. He said that the theme park operators are all posting record results, and he believes that is in part because, "Consumers of all ages are prioritizing experiences over possessions. We are fundamental to society because we create great memories."

Watch the video on CNBC.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016 2:28 PM

As you can imagine, this only extends my professional crush on this guy. I've been saying "experiences not stuff" as the optimal way to live life for a few years now. I'm apparently not the only one who feels this way.

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Wednesday, March 16, 2016 3:16 PM

Would you expect the guy in charge of a company that primarily sells experiences rather than stuff to say something different? :)

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Wednesday, March 16, 2016 3:32 PM

In related news: merchandise sales at Cedar Fair parks plummet.

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Wednesday, March 16, 2016 6:39 PM

Of course he would say what he sells is selling. Where his skill lies is in how he sells it. Watch the interview.

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Wednesday, March 16, 2016 9:19 PM

Well, their merchandise has been going down hill over the past few years.

Maybe now he will start bringing back good CP experiences now, as it has been going the wrong way. The park is not what it use to be. Matt has not impressed me at all yet!

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Wednesday, March 16, 2016 9:23 PM

I was kidding. I know nothing of their merchandise sales.

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Wednesday, March 16, 2016 9:37 PM

CoffinBoy said:

Maybe now he will start bringing back good CP experiences now, as it has been going the wrong way. The park is not what it use to be. Matt has not impressed me at all yet!

Well, maybe you could get some VR goggles and have a different experience every time you visit. ;-)

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Thursday, March 17, 2016 12:27 AM

I watched the interview. I like Ouimet. He has a lot of great experience and has made a lot of good decisions. But I think if you talked to him off the record, he would agree that the biggest driver of current financial performance of theme park industry is one of the longest periods of US economic growth since the end of WWII after the biggest economic downturn since the Great Depression. From a marketing aspect, I understand though talking about experience over stuff.

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Thursday, March 17, 2016 8:34 AM

CoffinBoy said:

Maybe now he will start bringing back good CP experiences now, as it has been going the wrong way.

I'm pretty sure you're going to a different park than I am. CP is ten times the park it was five years ago. It isn't perfect, but I've no desire to "bring back" the days of employees not empowered to do anything, restricted and micromanaged planning and design and a resort business that was an embarrassment.

Yes, of course the economy is driving success, but the quality of the product under his leadership has improved dramatically.

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Thursday, March 17, 2016 10:17 AM

Man...he is good. Any hint that I might have had that I could do that job one day gets dashed every time I see him speak. He just has "it". My hope is that positive culture is continuing to permeate down through the org chart.

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Thursday, March 17, 2016 10:55 AM

I think that has been a mixed bag. Some of his hires have been awesome, but others, not so much. I mean, big picture, I'm sure it's headed in the right direction, but some of the people hired frankly have me scratching my head.

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Thursday, March 17, 2016 12:19 PM

We've followed the experiences-not-stuff mantra for quite some time. And, there's solid research-based evidence that it's the right way to live:

http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/10/buy-experiences/381132/

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Thursday, March 17, 2016 6:00 PM

Seems to me it makes more sense to do what makes you happy rather than what some psychologist says should make you happy. And the line between experience and stuff is often blurred. In the end, life is a balance between the two with different folks having different "best" balances.

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Thursday, March 17, 2016 6:21 PM

My mother should be here. Back when I was in college, the family showed up to pick me up for the Christmas holidays with a packed car. My mother said we did the same thing every Christmas -- woke up, opened presents, ate food -- and each Christmas wasn't very memorable.

That Christmas, we stayed in a Motel 6. Our Christmas "tree" was a wreath on the back of a chair. I remember that Christmas like it was yesterday.

So, yes. I'll take experience over stuff. I love my stuff, don't get me wrong, but it's the experiences I remember.

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Thursday, March 17, 2016 8:51 PM

And the genius behind this is that I am more likely to purchase pictures, clothing, keychains, etc., if I am having an awesome time and want to commemorate the occasion.

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Thursday, March 17, 2016 9:58 PM

GoBucks89 said:

Seems to me it makes more sense to do what makes you happy rather than what some psychologist says should make you happy.

What's cool is that we agree about what makes me happy.

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Thursday, March 17, 2016 10:10 PM

Would your happiness change if that agreement didn't exist?

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Friday, March 18, 2016 12:15 AM

Yeah, there's a continuum of stuff vs. experience. I don't think anyone argues otherwise. I'm guilty of a ridiculous "stuff" purchase in the last year (that happens to enable a lot of experiences, I suppose). But my experience is that I spent my 20's and early 30's buying crap, and I don't remember what any of it was. I spent far less on experiences. After getting divorced and remarrying, I moved five times in four years and have had enough adventure in that time to develop a very real regret for not emphasizing the experiences earlier in life. And keep in mind, I was never of the mindset that life was all about a McMansion and an SUV, which is why I'm super judgey about "those people." I was only partially into the "stuff" way, and there's no question in my mind that it wasn't as good of a life as I could have been having.

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Friday, March 18, 2016 1:53 AM

Jeff said:

I think that has been a mixed bag. Some of his hires have been awesome, but others, not so much. I mean, big picture, I'm sure it's headed in the right direction, but some of the people hired frankly have me scratching my head.

He hasn't really brought in a ton of external people. Certainly far less than he could have given the organization (or lack thereof) he inherited in some areas.

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