Boating Industry

July 2016

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32 | Boating Industry | July 2016 /// Market Trends /// said Kinsey. "That seems consistent across the entire product line, and there has been growth from the value end to the premium product. The angler seems to be aware of what they can afford, and they will go get the best boat they can at that price point. As a result, we're seeing growth throughout the product lineups, as opposed to the barbell type of distribution where the entry level and high end sell well, and the mid-line gets squeezed out. Entry level is still holding steady to about where it was a few years ago, while the mid and premium products are increasing." Cross-category competition As the freshwater fi shing boat becomes more adaptable and family-friendly, it is bound to appeal to a wider range of buyers. At least in some markets, aluminum V-hulls with full windshields and versatile seating arrangements have begun to fi nd new buyers among customers that would traditionally purchase a fi berglass bowrider. "In Canada, particularly, we are seeing the multi-purpose fi shing boat with the full windshield and family seating begin to edge into what was once the domain of the runabout," said Smoker. "They've become more accepted as general purpose cottage boats, mainly due to their adaptability. We're not seeing that to the same degree here in the U.S., although there are a few places where that might be happening." The tendency toward aluminum fi shing designs as multi-role cottage boats in Northern markets may also refl ect consumer belief that aluminum hulls can better handle occasional scrapes against rocky bottoms than fi - berglass hulls might. That perception has long fueled a preference toward aluminum hulls in Northern markets. The irony with cross-market competition is that it often proves to be a two-way street. While freshwater fi shing boats may be experiencing some market growth at the expense of fi berglass bowriders, they themselves are increasingly coming into competition with pontoons. "We build both fi shing boats and pontoons, and we do sell a number of pontoon boats with full fi shing packages, including pedestal seats, rod racks and live wells," said Smoker. "It's a popular option in some markets." Putting regional variances aside and viewing the overall market from a continental perspective, cross-category gains and losses likely cancel one an- other out. Which leaves the freshwater fi shing category looking very good indeed. With steady volume growth in the mid-single digit range and a clear trend toward larger boats representing higher corresponding dollars and margins, the freshwater fi shing market is a good place to be. "Over the past three years the standard 16-foot fi shing boat has become an 18-foot or 19-foot model." — Phil Smoker, vice president of sales, Smoker Craft, Inc. Even through the recession, the aluminum segment fared better than others.

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