Boating Industry

October 2016

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16 | Boating Industry | October 2016 MARKET INTELLIGENCE Those working in the boating industry are still much more concerned about bringing younger buyers into the market than they are about at- tracting non-white buyers, according to the latest Boating Industry reader survey. We surveyed readers of Boating Industry's print and digital products, including dealers, manufacturers, suppliers and others working in the boating industry in August to learn more about their attitudes and concerns regarding younger and minority customers. Despite a fairly signifi cant effort by many industry groups to talk about the issue over the last several years, the results were mostly unchanged from when we conducted a similar survey in 2014. Millennials a top concern After a decade-long climb upward, the average buyer age appears to be declining slightly over the last couple of years. The average boat buyer was 51.4 years old in 2015, down from 51.9 in 2014 and 52.4 in 2013, ac- cording to analysis by Info-Link Technologies (see the August issue for more on average buyer age). Despite that, more than 60 percent of respon- dents are at least somewhat concerned about the aging buyer base in the boating industry, while 32 percent are very concerned about it. Those numbers are essentially unchanged from 2014 when 65 percent were concerned about the issue. Only 5 percent were not concerned at all – the same level as in 2014. More than two-thirds of the readers said they are actively attempting to track Millennial buyers through their marketing and customer outreach. Those efforts seem to be paying off for some companies, as almost all respon- dents reported getting at least some business from Millennials. While it's not a huge portion of the business for most readers (yet), 22 percent said they are getting more than 20 percent of their business from buyers under 35 years old. More than half are getting more than 10 percent of their busi- ness from the group. There are several challenges in reaching the age group, but the largest seems to be one of af- fordability in the opinion of the survey respon- dents. (See sidebar p. 17) More specifi cally, the recurring theme of low- paying jobs and high student loan debts was a common concern of our readers. "They don't have the money to buy a house or pay school loans," said a Wisconsin-based supplier. "There's no money to buy a boat!" Reaching new markets Affordability was also the most common Attitudes on new markets little changed Most in industry still not concerned about diversity, survey says CURRENT CONDITIONS August 55.6 July 63.6 FUTURE EXPECTATIONS August 58.3 July 52.7 We also asked readers about their views on the current health of the market as we do every month. In this regular monthly feature, we track the optimism of Boating Industry readers to help us get a read on the industry. A reading of zero means equal numbers of people are expe- riencing or expect growth as contraction, so any number above zero is a positive. August's results indicated continued year- over-year growth for Boating Industry read- ers, although at a lower pace than in July. That refl ects much of the other industry data that showed market growth slowing this summer. On the other hand, as a whole, survey respondents were more optimistic about the future than they were in July. BOATING INDUSTRY INDEX Very concerned 8% Somewhat concerned 19% Somewhat unconcerned 52% Not concerned at all 21% MOST NOT CONCERNED ABOUT LACK OF DIVERSITY Source: Boating Industry survey, August 2016 Very concerned 32% Somewhat concerned 30% Somewhat unconcerned 33% Not concerned at all 5% MORE CONCERN ABOUT AGING BUYERS Source: Boating Industry survey, August 2016

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