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Finding the Next Buyers

How strategic media partnerships help Discover Boating reach next-generation boaters
ESPN’s First Take hosts on the water (from left): Stephen A. Smith, Molly Qerim and Michael Irvin.

ESPN’s First Take hosts on the water (from left): Stephen A. Smith, Molly Qerim and Michael Irvin.

To be successful in today’s competitive marketplace, brands and businesses must understand how to market to each generation and what motivates them. There are four major generational shifts happening in society today: Generation Z (born 1997–2012), millennials (born 1981-1996), Generation X (born 1965-1980) and baby boomers (born 1946-1964). While these groups have things in common, there are some key differences.

Demographic trends show that the next generation of boating prospects will most likely be more diverse, and less likely to come from boat-owning families, than previous generations. This diversification is even more pronounced among younger generations, with the “post-millennial” generation predicted to be the most-diverse, best-educated generation yet. The future of boating will not look like the past, so it’s imperative for the boating industry to appeal to a younger, more diverse group of potential future boaters to show them how boating can include them.

Discover Boating commissioned a research study to fine-tune targting efforts in marketing. We developed a segmentation study of the potential target universe using two factors: participation in sports and outdoor activities, and income. This study looked at participation in the same outdoor activities that boat owners often pursue, allowing us to target a much larger base of future boaters with interests that overlap with today’s boat owners.

Three key segments emerged from the research: traditional boaters, growth segment and emerging segment. Traditional boaters are who their name suggests. They most closely resemble the current boat owner, while the growth and emerging segments are opportunities to expand the market for recreational boating — representing 91 million people and more than 1.5 times the traditional boater segment size.

Reaching and engaging these next-generation boating prospects where they live, work and play, digitally and experientially, is fundamental to growing the boating market. That is why part of Discover Boating’s marketing strategy is strategic media partnerships. Here’s a look at the media outlets Discover Boating partnered with in 2022.


A strong interest in sports is a common thread among Discover Boating’s target audiences. Throughout the summer, ESPN featured Discover Boating across its digital platform. On Aug. 15 it showcased recreational boating on its popular weekly television morning show First Take. The episode was broadcast live with Discover Boating from a boat on the East River in New York City, and aired again on ESPN2. (It’s also available on the ESPN app.) Discover Boating’s “Anthem” video also ran during the episode. ESPN’s First Take program averages 445,000 viewers daily, with 40 percent in the 18-to-24 age group.

Discover Boating’s “Hooked” video, highlighting the story of brand ambassador Khristian Rousseve, also ran on ESPN streaming services, and Discover Boating digital ads were placed on, which has nearly 11 million unique visitors per month.

Ebony Media

Ebony Media is one of the most highly trafficked platforms and respected media within the African-American community. Discover Boating’s partnership with Ebony came to life through two key activations over the summer.

First, Ebony invited Discover Boating to be part of its popular “Coolest Black Family” video and content series, which profiles African-American families participating in various activities. The Discover Boating videos that feature families who love life on the water have already garnered millions of views. They can be found on Ebony’s website at

Discover Boating also joined Ebony Media as a co-host for an event on Martha’s Vineyard, Mass., in August. Influential and affluent guests from across the African-American community experienced the fun of life on the water. From cruising to networking and book-signing events, guests spent quality time on board and learning about Discover Boating.


Another strategic partnerships is with Vice TV. As a leading network among 18- to 34-year-olds, Vice TV reaches 65 million homes. Running on Vice TV are two of Discover Boating’s videos — “Anthem” and “Hooked”— as well as a custom short piece about fishing aboard a personal watercraft.

Vice brand partnerships and video productions resonate in youth culture because they tell stories through the lens of connection, culture and identity. With more than three-quarters of our target audience looking for brands that engage with their audience through that very lens, partnering with Vice helps us build a connection with to the next generation of boaters through a familiar, authentic and human-centric voice across platforms and formats.

These partnerships are all helping Discover Boating connect with the key Growth and Emerging target segments, and have provided an opportunity to elevate and extend our industry’s voice to reach more potential boat buyers. Stay tuned for more strategic partnerships on the horizon.

To learn more, reach out to me at 

Kevin Williams is vice president of marketing for the National Marine Manufacturers Association.

This article was originally published in the October 2022 issue.



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