MDCE 2012: Demographic trend could boost industry

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Four industry giants think the changing demographics in the United States are creating a huge opportunity for the marine industry.

“The demographic trends in the United States don’t really concern us. We see that as an upside for us,” Yamaha Marine Group president Ben Speciale said during a leaders panel at the Marine Dealer Conference & Expo on Wednesday. “Baby boomers are such a huge group of people. Generations X and Y, minorities just create more opportunities to get new people into boating. We just don’t see a big concern because the culture of the U.S. is a boating culture.”

Speciale joined Brunswick Corp. CEO Dustan McCoy, Cobalt Boats CEO and co-owner Paxson St. Clair and GE Capital marine group president Bruce Van Wagoner.

“Republicans lost the election because they didn’t understand demographics,” McCoy said. “We’re a group of middle-aged Caucasians selling products to middle-aged Caucasians and that group is declining.”

The demographic trends are “the greatest opportunity this industry has ever had,” McCoy said. “We’ve got 150 million adults who don’t boat. If we don’t make changes, our industry in America will decline.”

“The one thing people seem to underestimate is that people in this industry did come together for the Grow Boating campaign,” Van Wagoner said. “Was it perfect? No, but I agree with Dusty that one of the biggest opportunities we have through that Grow Boating campaign is to expand opportunities in the marketplace, but we have to do it deliberately. It’s not just going to happen without taking the time and energy.”

“One of the things we need to remember, too, is we are perfectly positioned with a lot of boomers right here and right now,” St. Clair said. “And there are a heck of a lot of opportunities to capitalize on that right here, right now.”

Read more about the leaders panel and the dealer conference in the January issue of Soundings Trade Only.

— Reagan Haynes


3 comments on “MDCE 2012: Demographic trend could boost industry

  1. DJinNC

    Mr. McCoys comments are all well and good about the perceptual decline of caucasion population that is interested in boating. I would encourage him to remember that purchasing a boat for Middle Class member is a large discretionary choice and expensive endeavor to pursue overall. Also, boats and RV ownership for most of the MIDDLE CLASS is heavily dependent on financing. If Mr. McCoy was dependent on that sector of all but caucasions, his available qualified market would be small indeed and I fear not large enough to keep all the brands under his umbrella in business. I would suggest manufacturers and the marine market overall consider a “retrenchment” strategy coupled with marketing to the more affluent niches other than caucasion baby boomers.

  2. john ennis

    The vast majority of people in this country are not boaters so Speciale is totaly wrong when his says” The “culture of the U.S is a boating culture” Dustin McCoy ‘s comments ring true.What both are talking about here is changing the culture of various minorities to replace the rapidly disapearing white —mid aged— middle class which has long been the backbone of boating. Attempts at changing cultures are seldom if ever successful

  3. M. Gallapovo Sr.

    Everyone is missing the boat on this subject. There is no room for a middle class in any other culture except one that can promote a free enterprise economy that is fostered by real capitalism. This does not truly exist anywhere in the world other than the USA. During the last 235 years we have traveled from a free society to what we have now and in the last several decades we have moved toward a controlled economy. My bets are not on the baby boomers for boating, only medical products.

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