What can the behavior tell us?
According to the story, over 53% of English households have access to a garage, but only 24% of those homes used them to park their cars. A group of MPs (members of Parliament) said they were "astonished" that these garages were not used to park cars. It seems like there will be some new laws about on-street parking and so forth in England. But it seems to me that these folks are missing the point. There's a significant trend occurring here that we as innovators should investigate. Either people are lazy, or cars are too wide, as the article suggests, or something else entirely is going on.
There are several reasons why people would choose to park on the street when they have a perfectly good garage:
- They are storing a significant amount of stuff in their garage
- They've converted the garage into a play area for their kids
- They've started a business in the garage
- They needed extra space and converted the garage to a completely new room
One could be that homes in England are too small and people are using garages for extra storage or for new rooms. This would suggest that people are accumulating more stuff and that we can expect to see rapid growth in self-storage in England the way we've experienced it in the States. Or that perhaps teardowns are more difficult in England which will lead more people to move further out into the suburbs where they can build homes to meet their current needs.
Another could be that families are having more children and they are not finding the recreation or education alternatives they expect and so are converting their garages to schools or play areas. I suspect if we were to look more closely we'd find some of those garages at use in exactly this manner. An entrepreneur or innovator might position themselves to provide products and services targeting small recreation areas or schools in these situations.
Another reason could be that people are starting the proverbial garage business. Your garage is cheap real estate to begin a new business. If this supposition is true, then it might be possible to see a boom in entrepreneurial businesses in England. An entrepreneur or innovator might position themselves right now to offer services to home-based businesses that are just starting out.
More than likely, all of these suggestions have some validity. As people who are trying to figure out the next new products and services to offer, we need to look at these trends with open minds and try to understand what's happening and what the longer term implications are to position ourselves to offer the products and services necessary as these trends continue.
Or we can just assume that people are lazy and cars are fat.