Boating Industry

October 2014

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28 | Boating Industry | October 2014 [ 2014 Movers & Shakers ] FRANK PETERSON, PRESIDENT RECREATIONAL BOATING & FISHING FOUNDATION ALEXANDRIA, VIRGINIA Hispanics represent the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population and now number 53 mil- lion in the United States. They represent 17 percent of the U.S. popu- lation and more than a quarter of those fi ve and younger. Those numbers are much larger in sev- eral major markets such as Chicago, Miami and New York. They are a key demographic for any business, and companies such as Ford and Disney spend millions of dollars every year trying to reach them. But the boating industry has been slow to pursue the market. According to 2012 data from the National Marine Manufacturers Association, Hispanics represent only 8.4 percent of boating participants and only 7.7 percent of boat owners. The Recreational Boating & Fishing Foun- dation, under the direction of president Frank Peterson, is one of the groups trying to do some- thing about that. RBFF is working with several industry stakeholders and Lopez Negrete, the largest Hispanic-owned communications fi rm, to reach out to the Hispanic community. In late March, RBFF launched VamosAPes-, a website aimed specifi cally at the His- panic market, available in Spanish and English. It includes information on how to fi sh, getting licensed, debunking myths and more. Through the end of July, the site had recorded nearly 150,000 total visits, with traffi c increasing each month. The most popular segments have been those that focus on how to fi sh — by a 10 to 1 margin compared to the information on where to fi sh. On, the numbers for those sections are roughly equal, Peterson said. "It's reinforcing that knowledge of fi shing and boating is pretty elementary at this point," he said. "Everybody who wants to engage this audience is going to need to understand they're going to need to provide more information and education to this audience." Working with local governmental agencies, RBFF also ran 15 events in Florida and Texas this year. The idea behind those was to provide Hispanics experience with fi shing activities, as the research shows awareness of fi shing is low amongst that population. On a national basis, RBFF and its partners will be using social media, search engine mar- keting, radio and more to put the boating and fi shing lifestyle in front of potential participants. Discover Boating and RBFF also recently partnered on a new video, the fourth in its "Story of Discovery" series. It introduces the Vazquez family, a Hispanic family that shares its story of how boating allowed them to spend more time together. The video is available in both English and Spanish. That message of family — an important one with every group — resonates even more with the Hispanic audience, Peterson said. "That idea of 'togethering' is so important," he said. "We have to sell that emotional connec- tion even more to the Hispanic audience than we ever have to the general population." Based on their research so far, RBFF and Lopez Negrete have identified three target groups, representing more than 14 million His- panic adults, a number that more than doubles when children are included. Fishing Fanatics (5.1 million) — Avid an- glers who fi sh every chance they get, but have not necessarily embraced boating. Social Anglers (3.3 million) — Recreation- minded singles and couples that fi sh on occasion, but mostly engage in other outdoor activities. Happy Hikers (5.9 million) — Family- oriented nature lovers that plan activities around family time together, but rarely fi sh. RBFF is now engaged in more research, including conducting mystery shopping cam- paigns in boating and fi shing retailers to see how Hispanics are treated in a retail setting. Another large research project will help the foundation better understand the path to pur- chase and the barriers for Hispanics, especially when it comes to boating. RBFF plans to an- nounce those results at the Miami International Boat Show in February. As a nonprofi t, much of RBFF's plans for the campaign depend on funding, but the plan is to expand in-person events to more states next year, including California, New York and Illinois. The foundation will continue to grow the website as well, adding more video and other content. "We cannot do this alone," Peterson said. "Every facet of both the fi shing and boating in- dustries needs to come along with this. It does no good if we are building all this awareness if we're not all in this together." FINALISTS "We have to sell that emotional connection even more to the Hispanic audience than we ever have to the general population." — Frank Peterson » Hispanics in the United States 53 million

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