Marine industry stakeholders unanimously agreed to continue funding the industrywide marketing campaign Discover Boating.
Board members of Grow Boating, the National Marine Manufacturers Association’s Boat, Engine, and Marine Component and Accessory Division boards, the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas’ board of directors and invited guests agreed to continue funding the campaign.
The decision — made during a two-day Grow Boating summit Dec. 13-14 near Chicago — was attributable to the campaign’s ability and impact in attracting new boaters while providing strategic direction to evolve the program.
During the two-day summit, which was partially underwritten by Wells Fargo Commercial Distribution Finance, the group learned from leading researchers and marketing experts from outside and within the marine industry about new-boat sales and the overall economy, consumers’ buying behavior and shifts in expectations, marketing trends and impacts and how the Discover Boating campaign has performed during the past decade.
Key insights included:
- Between 2005 and 2015 the recreational boating industry saw a net loss of more than 1 million boaters. Boaters are leaving faster than the industry can replace them. (Source: Info-Link)
- By 2025, if the industry continues at this pace, it’s projected that the number of boat-owning households will diminish dramatically. (Source: Info-Link)
- Fifty-four percent of first-time boat buyers in 2005 are already out of boating. (Source: Info-Link)
- Between 2000 and 2015 the number of first-time new-boat buyers dropped from 175,000 to 69,000. (Source: Info-Link)
- The industry must attract first-time buyers, but it’s easier said than done because tomorrow’s boaters will be very different than they are today — vastly different buying behaviors, education, income and interests. (Source: Info-Link)
- T wo of three first-time boat buyers say they will not leave their personal contact information until the point at which they purchase the boat. (Source: 2016 Discover Boating/Olson First Time Buyer Research)
- Consumers choose to go directly to a manufacturer’s website, versus filling out a lead form on DiscoverBoating.com, by 1,000-to-1. (Source: 2016 Discover Boating Web Referral Study)
- Discover Boating is the top of the funnel for a lot of interested boaters — a major player in attracting first-time boaters. (Source: ARI)
- Discover Boating is the No. 1 source of third-party website traffic, outside of search engines, for many boat brands. (Source: 2016 Discover Boating Web Referral Study)
“One of the more staggering insights shared by Info-Link is that we are losing boaters faster than we can replace them and if we don’t bring in more first-time buyers — and market to them in an effective way — our industry is facing a dramatic challenge that could negatively impact everyone’s business,” Regulator Marine president Joan Maxwell said in a statement.
“Clearly, growing the overall number of boaters would be beneficial to all of us in the marine industry, which I believe can best be done through an industrywide program,” said Evan Davis, of OneWater Marine Holdings.
“Discover Boating attracts and refers millions of potential boaters to manufacturer and dealer sites every year, but to maximize the value of these referrals we need to find a better way to guide these individuals through the purchase and ownership process in order to convert more of them into lifelong boaters.”
"Consumers' shopping and buying behaviors have changed dramatically since Discover Boating launched more than a decade ago — they're less interested in providing their personal data in a lead form and they're hungry for information, doing extensive research before considering or making a purchase," said Carl Blackwell, president of Grow Boating.
"Leading marketing expert Tim Sanders provided excellent insights on what consumers are demanding and how our industry can adapt our marketing and sales efforts. One of the key takeaways from the summit is that Discover Boating needs to do a much better job helping the industry navigate consumers' changing behaviors and understand the value of the referrals Discover Boating is sending to their websites."