The Commuter is a Bigger Market Than Many Realize

January 10, 2018         By: Steven Anderson

For anyone out there who hasn’t spent their entire working life commuting, you understand the inherent issues that come along with this daily drive to and from work. The pumping of gas, the stop for a coffee or quick breakfast, the errands run along the way are all part of it. All of that together adds up to surprisingly big money for many industries: around $212 billion in commerce every year.

The different profit vectors in this surprisingly chunky number are varied and diverse. A reported $18.7 billion a year goes into picking up the morning’s caffeine fix to ramp up those early mornings. Moreover, $47.3 billion annually goes into purchasing breakfasts instead of cooking at home.

Basically, just the morning’s coffee and donuts, in all their various forms, adds up to almost 30 cents for every dollar spent in commuting. That makes the commuter market a very valuable one indeed, and one  that businesses can ill afford to ignore.

What’s more, projections say that, thanks to growing advances in in-car connectivity, the functions formerly possible only by smartphone or PC will come directly to a car’s dashboard. Given that 40 percent of commuters look to smartphones for gas while driving, that suggests a greater impact afoot.

If you’ve ever wondered why you’re not allowed to telecommute to work, this may be one of the biggest reasons right here. Sure, we like to blame the local equivalent of Dilbert’s Pointy-Haired Boss, but how much does that whopping price tag of a commuter market have to do with things? How many businesses like Yahoo or IBM—who shut down telecommuting in the name of “better collaboration”—have direct connections to the bottom lines of those businesses that provide commuter services, and are doing their part accordingly to keep employees on the road and spending?

We’ve been hearing stirrings about in-car connectivity for some time now, and who knows? The day may come where we can tell the equivalent of Alexa riding with us to order us two maple glazes and a large mocha from Dunkin’ Donuts before we pull out of the driveway. Just why it will happen is less clear, but it’s certainly not out of line.