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Other industries are ready to engage new markets. Why aren’t we?

By Brianna Liestman

The New Markets Task Force of the Recreational Boating and Leadership Council will be presenting its educational training module to the industry in a Boating Industry webinar at 2 p.m. EST on Jan. 5. The program has been presented live at several industry shows already.

The discussion around engaging new markets has largely discussed the income potential of engaging these new markets. However, I think it’s equally important to consider the potential for losing future dollars.

Consider the busy lifestyles and schedules of the modern family. They are being pulled in all sorts of different directions with kids’ activities, school demands, jobs they are more attached to after hours and more. Their recreational time is shorter and more precious. So while you, as a business owner, are competing with other boat businesses in your market, you are also competing with every other recreation.

“And those guys are getting wise to this,” said Wanda Kenton-Smith, chief marketing officer at Freedom Boat Club and president of Kenton-Smith Marketing, in my recent interview with her, “so we have to pay attention or other industries will eat our lunch. I know that there are other recreational industries … that are focused on these new markets, and we need to follow suit so we protect our share of the market.”

While many in the industry still seem to believe these new markets don’t have the discretionary income to enter the boating lifestyle, the data in the New Markets Task Force’s training module shows this isn’t true. And if we don’t get past these stereotypes we hold quick, other industries will before us and consumers will notice.

“The training is important because we need to put to rest the inaccuracies and the stereotypes that these markets don’t have the discretionary income or interest in boating,” said Kenton-Smith. In the training module, “Carlton [Phillips of Prince William Marine Sales] in his segment said ‘We need to welcome them all into the boating family.’ And he does; at his docks he has Asian, African-American, and Hispanics. He is in the mecca, the melting pot of this country.”

For anyone interested in seeing the data that supports these assertions, as well as hear tangible success stories from other boating businesses, be sure to tune in on Jan. 5. An archive of the webinar will also be available.

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