MDCE 2012: Demographics will determine industry’s future

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Socioeconomic strides must be made if the growing minority populations will get into boating.

That was the message Steve Murdock, former director of the U.S. Census Bureau and a sociology professor at Rice University, delivered during a seminar at the Marine Dealer Conference & Expo, which wraps up today in Orlando, Fla.

“There’s no coming back to people who look like you and I,” Murdock said. “It’s just demographically not going to happen. It’s just not very likely, given the age structure that affects fertility and the declining populations of Europe.”

Keeping educational resources consistent among all racial and economic groups is key to getting more minority-group members into activities such as boating because that gives people access to more success.

“We have a resistance to immigrants as a whole and that slows this process down,” Murdock said.

“It’s not that they don’t like boating or hunting. It’s just a resource issue,” Murdock added. “And that is the issue I think that, as it’s tied up with demographics, is the most problematic.”

Those cycles have been broken in the past though, for example, with the Irish, Murdock said.

The marine industry also might consider changing its marketing, Murdock told the group.

“If I told you that you could win the presidential election by winning the Hispanic vote by 34 percent you’d say I was crazy, but it happened,” Murdock said. “And it happened because of selective marketing.”

The marine industry isn’t alone; there are a lot of recreational industries that are predominantly composed of aging non-Hispanic white people, such as hunting.

“If some of these changes don’t get made, you’re all in for some changes,” Murdock said.

— Reagan Haynes


4 comments on “MDCE 2012: Demographics will determine industry’s future

  1. Heraldo Odom

    Just returned from the Ft. Lauderdale Boat Show. Boatine, “the endeavor” is rapidly become a pastime for the rich and famous. In an era when family incomes are being drastically reduced ( and it looks like that pattern will continue into the future) the cost of boats and equipment is going in the opposite direction. Cost is so outrageously high that the activity will no longer be for the “middle class”. It’s starting to look like the turn of the century (20th century) when only the mega-rich could afford to be on the water in their own yachts. It’s much more than demographics; if we don’t start growing the economy the boating industry will die with the country.

  2. B.Alomia

    One of the reasons why MarineMax is ahead of the industry curve is because we already have a strong demographic mix of customers. If the company relied on one specific customer group it would not have survived America’s ongoing economic crisis. We offer a diverse selection of boat brands and types to our customers which in turn broadens our customer base.

  3. Stuart Wikander

    I am in agreement with both Heraldo Odom and Murdock. Having run a small boat yard/marina for the past 32 years I have witnessed 1st hand the changes and challenges it presents. The increased cost of boating: purchase, fueling and maintenance has shrink both the industry and boat size. When you couple this with the operational cost of a marine business you are being hit from both sides. In my view the number of small boatyards will continue to shrink and “on the water” service centers will be regional. Popularity of “Boating Clubs” for non-trailer boats will increase.

  4. trbass

    it is just not the cost of boating, the cost of health care and gasoline has grinded our economy to a stop or slowed it down to a perminent crawl.
    george w.’s war on the poor is still screwing us years later you can not run a country spending 50 cents or more of every tax dollar shoting at people all over the world and ignore your own people . everytime they talk spending cuts it is here in the US not to military or foreign ad…what a joke…if we keep on f’ing our own people our counrty will continue to slide down a dangerous slope………

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