Boating Industry

February 2016

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February 2016 | Boating Industry | 31 /// Market Trends /// cannibalizing other industry segments," observes Kinsey. "Unless you tow the boat frequently, or you're a professional wakeboarder or tourna- ment fisherman, a pontoon is the most versatile boat you can own. I'm reminded of a colleague I used to work with, who once said the most selfish purchase a man can make is a bass boat, since that represents a commitment to spend a lot of weekends away from your family. But that's not at all true with a pontoon. A pontoon is a commitment to spend time with your fam- ily, and it is the versatility of the design which makes that possible." If there is one segment that has felt the impact of the pontoon market more than any other, it is the small cruiser segment. Where pocket cruisers under 30 feet were once strong sellers, they have almost disappeared with the rise of the pontoon category. "We surveyed owners of small cruisers, small being defined as less than 30 feet in overall length, and found less than 10 percent of them actually used the overnight accommodation in their boat," said Brunswick Corporation CEO Dusty McCoy in his keynote presentation at the 2013 Marine Equipment Trade Show (METS). "We found they mainly use the cabins for stor- ing their gear." Pontoons fit with McCoy's further obser- vation that boating needs to become less ex- pensive, telling the METS audience, "As an industry, we're beginning to price ourselves out of business." Pontoons fit that bill, since a cruiser with comparable seating capacity gener- ally costs much more to buy and considerably more to operate. "Pontoons are taking market share from other segments, particularly in the high-end and performance-related product," said Pre- mier Pontoons president Lori Melbostad. "It's all about having more space. A 30-foot pontoon gives you so much deck space compared to a 30-foot cruiser, where everyone sits together rubbing elbows in that little pocket of open cockpit in the stern. Today the upholstery and appointments are on par with, or nicer than, what you have in a similarly sized cruiser. The pontoon offers far more space and versatility, and with our recent innovations we can also offer the boater overnight accommodations to meet that need as well." Campion Marine, a fiberglass cruiser and run- about manufacturer, added a fiberglass pontoon With their versatility from cruising to fishing to water sports, pontoons are taking market share from many segments.

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