Boating Industry

July 2016

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30 | Boating Industry | July 2016 /// Market Trends /// of the market, in that $50,000 to $100,000-plus price range. We're seeing more Jaguar sales now than we ever have, and those are big boats with 350 horsepower outboards." Growth at each end of the pricing spectrum can be explained by basic demographics, says Pierce. While boomers take advantage of contin- ued low interest rates to buy increasingly higher- end boats, the entry level is being fueled by a new generation of bass anglers rising from high school and college tournament circuits. "We're seeing tremendous activity in high school bass fi shing, and we're seeing simi- lar growth at the collegiate level," said Pierce. "These kids are active and they're engaged. For us, it's bringing back a lot of the mid- level. The parents don't want the kid driving a 20-foot boat with a 250 on it, they want to start them on some- thing smaller and less powerful, like a 19-footer with a 150. For us, that represents a growth op- portunity because many of these kids will become lifelong anglers, and will move up to larger boats down the road. "The challenge in the freshwater market is that we lost what I call the Nintendo genera- tion, which would be buyers in that 30 to 45 age range," he continues. "You just don't see many of them. These are the people who grew up with Gameboys and video games, instead of growing up developing an interest in the outdoors." Pierce feels the bass market is doing well, even if it still has a way to go before it returns to pre-downturn levels. "Back in the 1980s, the bass boat market alone was a 55,000 to 57,000 piece market, shared by dozens of manufacturers. Today, it's about a 10,000 piece market that's split between a handful of us," he said. "We're seeing it come back to where it was before the recession, and we're seeing more stability. The growth in col- lege bass angling is encouraging." The aluminum core While the bass market may be experiencing faster than average growth, it is the aluminum V-hull that represents the core of the freshwater fi sh- ing boat market. The aluminum V-hull segment didn't suffer the post-downturn crush as badly as some other segments did, and the consensus is that it's currently operating at somewhere around 70 percent of its pre-downturn volumes. "People tend to view a fi shing boat as part of their lifestyle," said Jeff Kinsey, president, Brunswick Freshwater Boats. "You might use it to take the family for a cruise around or to try water sports, but its primary purpose is to catch fi sh. So as a consequence they aren't subject to whims, people don't use the boat for a few years then decided to go get another one. The owner- ship cycle is a bit longer, and people don't seem to turn over their boat as quickly as what might be seen in some other segments." With category growth in the mid single-digit range, the aluminum fi shing category is respond- ing to consumer preference for more versatile boats that can do more than just fi sh. Families want boats that can also go for an after dinner cruise or a picnic on a distant island, or pull the kids around on a tube. "Having said that, you cannot sacrifi ce the 2013 2014 2015 Aluminum Fish OB 53,371 56,788 59,085 Fiberglass Bass/Fish OB 7,577 8,031 8,561 FRESHWATER OUTBOARD BOAT SALES 20-foot boats have become the new normal for many anglers. Fishability is still the key characteristic of the category, says Brunswick's Jeff Kinsey. Source: SSI

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