Boating Industry

February 2016

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 31 of 43

32 | Boating Industry | February 2016 /// Market Trends /// product (named the Biltmore "Fibertoon") to its product line in 2013. "The premium pontoon market doesn't face a lot of price sensitivity because the primary competitor is a cruiser," said Brock Elliott, presi- dent of Campion Marine. "Compare a pontoon to a cruiser with the same seating capacity and capabilities, and the pontoon will win every time. Our Biltmore product is a premium, high-end product, yet we have not faced any sort of resis- tance to its pricing whatsoever. When people see what they get for their money, they realize the value just can't be beat." For sterndrive runabout manufacturer Cobalt, the decision to add a pontoon line was easy. "The buyer for a Marker One product is the same person as the buyer for a Cobalt, they just have different ideas on how they want to spend a day on the water," explains Hunt. "For some families, that's cruising, wakeboarding, towing a tube, doing some skiing or entertaining friends, and that's where the floating living room works very well. We're committed to growing our busi- ness in this segment." While there are many factors identified as contributing to continued growth of the pon- toon segment, retained value is one aspect that flies under the radar. Late-model pontoons are easy sales on the used market, and at least right now, they appear to retain their value better than some other types of boats. "We have a lot of repeat buyers, which has spawned a growing market for used pontoons," said Melbostad. "Whether it's a resale or a trade- in, the boater can still get a decent dollar for their old pontoon when they move up to a new one. And because they're outboard-powered, the dealer has a lot more flexibility when the time comes to sell a trade-in pontoon since they can be repowered so much more easily than a boat with an inboard or a sterndrive." The long view In spite of a plethora of new nameplates and new models, industry consensus seems to be that the pontoon category will continue to ex- hibit high single-digit growth for at least the next 18 to 24 months. Growth may even creep back into double digits if the category can be developed in export markets. With several manufacturers expressing an interest in doing just this – SunChaser even introduced an all-new Traverse series this year, specifically designed to fit into a standard ship- ping container – export may represent an entirely new growth opportunity. Where the cost to ship full-sized boats was once identified as a signifi- cant barrier to exporting, with top-end units now boasting retail price tags approaching or surpass- ing six figures, the relationship between shipping expense and retail price isn't much different than it is for fiberglass boats, which have been ex- ported worldwide for years. Advances in outboard technology have helped grow the segment. The scalability of pontoons has played a big role in growing the market for SmokerCraft and others.

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Boating Industry - February 2016