LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Market growth is available to recreational marine companies that make an effort to engage and attract the Hispanic community. That was the message delivered Wednesday during a seminar at the International BoatBuilders’ Exhibition & Conference.
“There are 53 million Hispanics in the U.S., according to the 2010 Census, accounting for 17 percent of the population,” said Gerry Lorado, a strategic marketing analyst who is advising the seminar’s host, the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation, on a five-year initiative to grow Hispanic participation in fishing and boating.
“This effort has to be a total effort by the whole industry,” RBFF president and CEO Frank Peterson, who moderated the seminar, said. “That’s manufacturers, distributors, dealers and retailers.”
The demographics are clear.
“Hispanics are the largest minority in this country and accounted for 55 percent of all population growth between 2000 and 2010,” said Lorado, of the market research firm Lopez Negrete Communications. The Pew Research Center forecasts that Hispanics could account for as much as 29 percent of the general population by 2050.
“The growth rates are tremendous and it’s not slowing down,” added Ed Cantu, director of consumer insights and planning at Lopez Negrete.
Further, the Hispanic population has its own emerging baby boom (23 percent of all Americans younger than 18 and 26 percent of those under the age of 5 are Hispanic), which will have far-reaching effects on U.S. culture, rivaling the cultural clout of white baby boomers.
“This Hispanic baby boom is a huge wave that hasn’t made their impact felt yet,” Lorado said. “When we talk about exposure to boating and fishing [for Hispanics], now is the time to act.”
Hispanic buying power is also rapidly on the rise. The number of Hispanic-owned businesses has increased from 1.7 million in 2002 to 3.2 million today, said speaker Lou Sandoval, founder and co-owner of Karma Yacht Sales in Chicago.
Overall, Hispanic affluence is also on the rise. “The gap between the haves and the have-nots is narrowing,” Lorado said, noting that Hispanic households earning $75,000 or more grew 152 percent between 2000 and 2012.
The RBFF’s five-year marketing strategy will roll out in April with a multimedia campaign in Florida and Texas, which have a substantial Hispanic population. The program will be expanded nationally in the following years.
Throughout the campaign, the RBFF will share marketing data and insights into Hispanic culture — its nuances and differences — with the entire industry.
“Once [Hispanics] are in your shop, it’s so much easier to close the deal if you understand their different experience from yours,” Cantu said.
That experience, in general, means to some degree a language barrier, an all-inclusive family principle for recreation, limited exposure to boating and fishing and the absence of a cultural identity with those activities.
Speakers stressed the need for a long-term commitment from marine businesses to develop the Hispanic market.
“Exposure early on is your dividend that is going to pay off in the long term,” Sandoval said.
— Rich Armstrong