A View from Here

Bill's Sisson's weekly Trade Only blog

Reaching an untapped market?

I’m curious about something. What are dealers and manufacturers doing to lure women, minorities, unmarried and anyone under the age of 45 into boating?

According to the National Marine Manufacturers Association’s statistics, nearly 69 percent of boat owners are married; the median age of boat owners is 45 to 49.

Perhaps it’s time to tilt those statistics toward another viable market.

And did you know “Unmarried and Single Americans Week” will be observed September 16-22. This group prefers to use the phrase unmarried and single because many unmarried Americans do not identify with the word ‘single’ because they are parents, have partners or are widowed.

I’ll share some single stats that I found on www.census.gov:

92 million
Number of unmarried and single Americans 18 and older in 2006. This group comprised 42 percent of all U.S. residents 18 and older. 

54 percent
Percentage of unmarried and single Americans 18 and older who are women. �
60 percent

Percentage of unmarried and single Americans 18 and older who have never been married. Another 25 percent are divorced, and 15 percent are widowed.  

15 million
Number of unmarried and single Americans 65 and older. These older Americans comprise 16 percent of all unmarried and single people 18 and older.  

Maybe we should adopt ‘Single Buying Power’ as a slogan in an upcoming campaign.

Lois Caliri
Soundings Trade Only


10 comments on “Reaching an untapped market?

  1. Brian Walker

    I agree with Lois. I think it would make sense to open up marketing campaigns for women, singles and minorities. I come in contact almost daily with single relatives and friends looking to buy boats. I’m also a music lover. I know in the Rap industry, the artists are portraying the boating lifestyle in many of their videos as well as they own some of their own. Alot of them come from the South where boating is a way of life for all people. I do believe there is a growth opportunity for minority ownership in the Marine industry. There are minority Expos all across this country for African Americans, Latinos, and Asians that are geared toward helping them start businesses. The last thing the industry needs is a stigma that you have to have a certain level of wealth, be a certain gender or ethnicity to take part.

  2. Wiulson Wright

    In my opinion, t is time that the boating manufacturers and retailers woke up to the fact that women are makingmost of the decisions on big ticket items. My business partner buys automobiles based on whether his wife finds the cup holders well placed. In my household my wife keeps the books and we don’t buy mich she doesn’t like…and the next market is the kids. If our kids want it, we will probably find a way to buy it.

    I’m not into sales or marketing but these are the views or a white anglosaxon professional male.

  3. Nyla Deputy

    I have been looking at boat magazine ads. The ‘go fast’ boat manufacturers market to single guys. You see them on the cover of boating magazines. Always with a ‘babe’ or two onboard with him. The ad message is that you too will be a “chick magnet” if you buy one of these boats. I think that is about it as far as boat advertising goes towards singles. All other types of boats advertise to families and couples. I agree, I think they should find new markets. And singles are a large group that has been ignored..

  4. Anonymous Bob

    The industry is terrible at marketing to groups outside the WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant) market. We completely overlook, ignore, dismiss, whatever you want to call it, 2 growing demographic groups: Hispanic or Spanish speaking citizens and African-American citizens. Each group has aggregate incomes, read: purchasing power, approaching the $1 Trillion (yes, Trillion) mark. Both groups are big-time family-oriented and tend to be very loyal (brand and dealer) purchasers once they make their purchase. Both groups are very social in nature. Both groups are growing in number, have increasing disposable incomes, and are major contributors to the US economy. Their education levels and social standing are improving as their incomes increase. The demographics are perfectly in sync with the boating lifestyle.

    If the industry is so concerned about a shrinking market, maybe it’s time to develop and try a new strategy to create market growth. Instead of relying on the same, tired old campaigns that target the same, safe market, it is past time to try new, innovative marketing campaigns geared towards those heretofore ignored Hispanic and African-American consumers. The population of the United States is approximately 300 million people. 1% market share of that is 3 million. Isn’t it time to focus our marketing energies on the segments of the population that are growing, both in numbers and incomes? Makes sense to me.

    The marketing slogan should be: “Memories Need Water, Too. Go Boating.” Why single out (pun completely intended) target markets when this industry desperately needs to reach out to as many consumers as possible?

    Just a thought…

  5. Randall

    “I’m curious about something. What are dealers and manufacturers doing to lure women, minorities, unmarried and anyone under the age of 45 into boating?” To answer your question nothing.

    To my dismay I have found that the marine industry as a whole is a very clickish bunch with a no talk policy when it comes to adding women and minorities into the marine fold. As a fully accredited Captain with a comprehensive and diverse back ground I have been overlooked based on my race. This proves true in all aspects of the marine industry. Whether you are a Captain, Engineer, Project Manager, Fabricator or Mechanic diversity is non existent.
    My love of boating has keep me focused and steadfast in my attempt to gain as much knowledge as possible so at some point I may be able to make a career in the industry. In retrospect there are many practices that are standard operating procedure when it comes to locking qualified individuals out of the loop There are discriminatory practices that run haphazardly in the industry and no one wishes to address it. There is a diverse and eager work force that wishes to break into the marine industry with unique qualifications but barriers are presents. Its time for a change,

  6. John Wisse

    As but one example, the motorcycle industry was long known for its “clickish bunch” philosophy as Randall noted. Not until the 1980s when that industry initially embraced the importance of rider safety and using it as a new business model — the rider safety education-to-sales model — was there a significant upward turn in sales, ownership and participation.

    When the motorcycle industry learned in the 1990s and acted upon the strong interest and buying power of women, the upturn skyrocketed and has since translated into consecutive years of record sales industrywide for more than a decade now. Women not only account for about 40% of all new motorcycle sales, they also account for a significantly higher percentage of rider safety/skills education participants. When the marine industry sheds its old 1970s business philosophies and wakes up to present-day marketing and consumer psychology realities, and perhaps embraces a similar education-to-sales model, then it may certainly be a step in the right direction that other industries have since followed with significant measurable success. Ignoring a vastly diverse consumer market base is not only foolish and certain to restrict industry growth, but it also isolates many others from a lifestyle the marine industry itself promotes as supportive of values such as social and family bonding, affordability and quality of life enhancement. And curiously, little has been additionally said about trying to recruit former active boaters back into the fold.

  7. 2Gals Fishin

    2gals Fishin out of Tampa Florida tend to agree with the fact that the boating industry as a whole is really “A Good ‘Ol Boys Club”. Just like many industries, your marketing approach to women needs to be subtle. Most Men buy with Ego in mind. Real women despise the EGO approach. Market boats to women by showing what’s in it for them! Someone needs to come out with a commercial that shows a group of 6 gals, wind in their hair, cruising along the intercoastal having a great time as they slow down to recognize the two “anglers” trying to “bring home dinner”. The truth is…WOMEN bring home the bacon AND Fry it up in the pan!” and every now and then, they “just want to have fun!”

  8. B

    A tiny market, not worth the dollars invested to reach them….As this economy slows and grinds into the recession/depression, less and less money will be relegated to activity of pleasure such as boating. How many people actually had boats in 1931 ?…….Yeah, I thought so. This time will be no different.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive. For more information, please see our Comments Policy.