VIDEO: Water skiing market might be ripe for baby boomers

The boating industry often concentrates on marketing to baby boomers, but it might be crafting its message on assumptions about how boomers act.
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The boating industry often concentrates on marketing to baby boomers, but it might be crafting its message on assumptions about how boomers act — and those might not line up with boomers today.

Barefoot water skier Zenon Bilas, who won seven national championships in the 1980s and was the No. 1 barefoot slalom water skier in the world in 1984, is making a comeback in his 50s and was recently the subject of a profile on Growing Bolder TV.

The show appears nationally on Retirement Living TV and on stations in Orlando, Jacksonville and West Palm Beach, Fla., and one in Massachusetts.

The show targets the “ever expanding baby boomer market” and profiles boomers who are shedding stereotypes and ideas about what they can achieve.

Bilas says some companies might be missing opportunities, based on assumptions about what people in their 50s enjoy doing.

“Boating and tow sports advertisers typically feature a teen or young adult behind the boat, generally wakeboarding or wakesurfing,” Bilas told Trade Only Today. “But this sends the message that baby boomers and others should not enjoy the active side of boating.”

Other tow sports, such as water skiing, attract an over-25 demographic that might not align with the wakeboarding culture, Bilas said.

“Portraying that older segment sets the advertiser apart and brings new customers to drive sales,” he said. “It's always a better marketing strategy to reach — or create — the largest possible audience.”

Marketers of tow products might be missing business opportunities by concentrating on the under-25 market, he said.

“When everyone focuses on this most obvious market, all the advertising looks similar,” he said. “You have what I call cliche marketing, and no one stands out.”

Check Bilas out in the segment, which starts around the 9:30 mark:

Mercury Marine, the company that built the engine powering the boat Bilas is seen behind and that has sponsored him at various points in his career, said technology can help make things easier and more accessible for people of all ages.

“No one is too old to begin boating, and it's a great way to connect with family and friends,” said Michelle Dauchy, Mercury Marine chief marketing officer. “To help enable this, we continuously deliver leading-edge innovations that make boating easy and enjoyable.”

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