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MDCE 2012: Demographics will determine industry’s future

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

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