Boating Industry

November 2016

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November 2016 | Boating Industry | 45 /// Market Trends /// are still a long way from where we were." While the category may well still be behind pre-downturn levels, it is gaining ground – mainly on the strength of almost continuous innovation. "New product is always going to drive the growth," notes Springer. "Which makes this an exciting segment to be in, because everyone in the category is bringing out new product all the time. Malibu brings out four new boats every year, with 15 to 20 new features, and that's why our market share has increased so substantially. But there is still a lot of room for future growth. The West, and California in particular, is still lagging a bit for a number of reasons, but I believe El Niño is helping as we've seen some stronger activity there this year. Canada is down this year, due to the currency exchange rate and higher gas prices earlier in the season." "Historically California has been a great market, but currently it is only about a third of pre-downturn unit sales," agreed Yeargin. "Texas is now the hottest market, with sales about twice the second closest state." With the appeal of water sports in general, and wakesurfing in particular, among younger, more active buyers, it appears that the steady growth that the tow boat category has enjoyed since 2011 should continue. "Certainly the desire of millennials to be associated with great brands will drive future growth," said McNew. "Even if they're not the direct purchaser of the boat yet, they still influence the purchase. These cus- tomers value time with friends and family, and they tend to be fairly active. They appreciate living a healthier lifestyle, and getting outside to have fun rather than sit and watch TV or play video games." For many buyers the tow boat is replacing the sterndrive-powered bowrider.

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