Here’s an early Christmas present to open. As you do, you’ll learn that boaters are leaving faster than we can replace them. Fifty-four percent of first-time boat buyers in 2005 have bailed out. Between 2000 and 2015, first-time new-boat buyers dropped from 175,000 to 69,000.
To all my marine dealer readers, I’m sorry to be serving such bad egg nog. But it’s all true. Please, if you haven’t already, read the disquieting report on the Discover Boating Summit meeting vote in Monday’s Trade Only Today. To be sure, the data revealed by Info-Link turns “ho, ho, ho” into “oh, oh oh!”
With these and other stark facts before them, it’s no surprise the attendees voted to continue Discover Boating (like, if not that, what? Silence). It was like voting for motherhood, apple pie and amber waves of grain. After all, it is the only coordinated national awareness campaign our fractured industry has going for it.
But what’s really encroached on my seasonal jolly is that I hung my stocking on the mantle with care in hope that more Discover Boating funding would soon be there. But no. While Discover Boating has seen a nominal increase in funds due to our agonizingly slow trek toward prerecession sales levels, the needed change in the funding formula to appropriately address the needs so visibly identified at the summit didn’t see the light of day. It should have.
Wasn’t the princess phone still in vogue the last time the Discover Boating funding formula was updated? In spite of that, the Discover Boating team hasn’t put coal in our stockings, either. Indeed, they continue to move forward doing precisely what they know must be done: build a positive recognition and sentiment for pleasure boating nationwide.
To do it, Discover Boating widely employs available tools such as targeted digital advertising, social media campaigns, national publicity and public relations programs, all anchored by www.discoverboating.com. It has an extraordinary amount of information covering virtually every aspect of the boating lifestyle, from purchasing to enjoying.
Discover Boating is designed to: (1) inspire people to consider boating; and (2) help dreamers become boat owners. It’s really that simple and it’s something dealers and manufacturers can only accomplish by this unified industry effort.
How does the success of Discover Boating benefit dealers? First, Discover Boating gives boating a national marketing campaign that makes our sport look appealing and keeps it fresh in people’s minds. That’s shown by more than 1.5 billion positive impressions this year.
Secondly, Discover Boating provides consumers a path that can take them from awareness all the way to purchase and, ultimately, full enjoyment of the product.
Third, Discover Boating directly delivers prospective customers to manufacturers and dealers — particularly 2.9 million people sent directly to manufacturer’s websites this year.
Finally, every dealer should be connected to www.GrowBoating.org because it offers promotional materials, web tools and apps that can help dealer websites be more effective in turning prospect into buyers.
The vote to continue Discover Boating was the right way to go.