Boating Industry

October 2014

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Page 15 of 59 16 | Boating Industry | October 2014 MONTHLY RESEARCH 32 percent were very concerned by it. At the same time, only 10 percent were very concerned about the minority participation rates, while 28 percent were at least some- what concerned. With those numbers, it's not surprising that most in the industry are actively trying to attract younger buyers, as 76 percent of re- spondents said they were. Only 35 percent of Boating Industry readers are working to bring more non-white buyers into their businesses. These priorities were also refl ected in BY JONATHAN SWEET The white, baby boomer male has been a very good demographic for the boating industry as they bought millions of boats over the last few decades. But younger buyers — and those of other ethnicities — have not embraced boating in the same way. That's refl ected in lower participa- tion rates, lower sales and the simple eye test. It's an important enough issue that two of the six focus areas for the Recreational Boat- ing Leadership Council are youth and diversity. Many industry leaders also identifi ed it as one of the key challenges facing the industry in our 85th Anniversary issue earlier this year. Among other efforts, the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation has launched a multi-year program to reach out to His- panics to bring them into boating and fi sh- ing. (You can read more about that effort in our profi le of Mover & Shaker Finalist Frank Peterson on p. 28) Generation X, millennials more important For most in the industry, though, it appears the lack of Generation X and millennial boaters is a bigger issue than the low participation rates of minorities. We surveyed readers of Boating Industry print and digital publications, including deal- ers, manufacturers, suppliers and others work- ing in the industry in July and August to fi nd out their attitudes and concerns regarding younger and minority customers. Almost two-thirds of respondents said they were at least somewhat concerned by the rising age of the average boat buyer, while Lack of minorities not a concern for many CURRENT CONDITIONS June 63.1 July/Aug 45.5 FUTURE EXPECTATIONS June 53.6 July/Aug 53.3 BOATING INDUSTRY We also asked readers about their views on the current health of the market as we do every month. In this regular monthly feature, we track the optimism of Boating Industry readers to help us get a read on the industry. A reading of zero means equal numbers of people are experiencing or expect growth as contraction, so any number above zero is a positive. This month's results show that after June's surge (the best month of the year according to the index), late summer still was better than 2013, but not at the same rate. On another positive note, readers are also expecting the fall to look good. INDEX Industry more worried about aging buyers, survey says ATTRACTING YOUNGER BUYERS We also asked about the challenges in attracting Millennial and Generation X buyers to boating. Here are some of those responses: "Too many other distractions." "Making them understand the (multiple) benefi ts of boating." "Dealerships are not marketing through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. Not enough industry support for high school fi shing teams and collegiate fi shing teams." "Securing fi nancing for purchases." "Boating needs to be marketed as 'excitement.' Too many Gen-X buyers see boating as fi shing only. Technology must be an integral part of boating to capture this generation." "Move boating to make it an affordable activity, especially when compared to RVs or vacation homes." "This age group has been impacted by and reacted greatly to the malaise of reckless and irresponsible fi nancial institution practices. They are very cautious about spending." "I feel Generation X and younger buyers' priority is to make fi nancially sound decisions. Buying a boat is not always that." "This sounds morbid, but once Baby Boomers pass on their income to the Millennials and Gen X we'll start to see them enter the boating scene." "The middle class is shrinking because this generation isn't replacing at a signifi cant rate those in the same class that are dying off."

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