Dipping sales hurting Grow Boating program

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With boat sales down, Grow Boating receipts also have declined. Grow Boating is the industry wide initiative to increase boat sales.

“Receipts are down consistently with industry sales this year — in the 17- to 20-percent range,” Thom Dammrich, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association, told Soundings Trade Only.

“It is solely sales related,” said Dammrich, who also serves as president of Grow Boating Inc. “Everybody continues to pay their assessment.” The Grow Boating Initiative is funded through a surcharge on engines, but it is collected through manufacturers.

The Grow Boating board of directors met in Atlanta earlier this month to discuss the Grow Boating initiative and the Discover Boating campaign and they reviewed preliminary 2008 results and started planning for the New Year.

They also took a hard look at the budget and how funds are allocated to this strategic initiative, Dammrich added.

Last year, Grow Boating generated $12.5 million from engine assessments. This year’s receipts would total about $10.5 million.

While there will be less to spend on each Grow Boating strategy, the NMMA said its board was unanimous in the view that the strategies are sound and they professed a strong support to stay on course.

Independent research indicates Discover Boating (the marketing initiative) is getting more people to participate in boating — 6 percent more in 2006 and nearly 9 percent more in 2007. “This, from the outset, was a long-term program to change the outlook of our industry,” said Dammrich.

Still, because of the lower receipts, there will be belt-tightening with the Grow Boating initiative. “The board has reduced the budgets on a pro-rata basis,” Dammrich said. “The biggest part of the budget is marketing, so that has the biggest dollar cut.”

Carl Blackwell, vice president of marketing and communications at the NMMA, is working with the Grow Boating marketing agency on how to get the most out of a smaller budget. Dammrich said it is looking at whether to change the focus of the marketing campaign until the economy improves.

Convincing people who are not interested in boating to consider the sport still is a long-term goal, but Dammrich said limited funds may require a campaign targeted toward people already interested in buying a boat and moving them to purchase. “You get more immediate impact,” Dammrich said.

— Melanie Winters
Associate Editor
m.winters@tradeonlytoday.com

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