Fit boating into Millennials’ financial framework

In our Reaching New Markets webinar last week, we received a number of insightful questions and comments after panelists Raul Bermudez, Lou Sandoval and Rob Youker finished their presentations. Unfortunately, as always seems to be the case with these discussions, we ran out of time to address every question and comment. However, one comment caught my eye just before we ran out of time that I wanted to delve into further.

Stephanie Offutt of Marine Connection chimed in, expressing an opinion as a Millennial and someone who works in the marine industry. She highlighted the need for the industry to adapt its financing to the financial habits of Millennials as a way to increase the generation’s participation in recreational boating.

I saw it and thought it was worth expanding upon, so I followed up with her after the webinar to ask if she would be willing to provide a little more detail. Here is her response:

“Millennials spend money, but because we are more frugal than other generations, we justify our purchases differently. We are more likely to spend money on social experiences than anything else, and we view financial stability as simply being able to pay all of our bills each month.”

I don’t think boating fits outside of these financial habits. If we frame boating as a trailerable social experience you can bring with you to any waterway, we can grab this generation’s attention.

Offutt added further: “Budgeting is a way of life for us, which is why financing options that allow us to buy what we want now and spread out payments over time are highly appealing for us. Monthly payments give us a sense of control over our financial stability, and because it is how we approach our finances already (ie. monthly payments on a car loan, monthly rent payments, insurance, etc.), it appears as the financially responsible way to make purchases.”

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This really struck a chord with me, as it matched with a lot of my personal experiences. The Millennials I do know who are homeowners (present company included) became so by putting down a smaller down payment and offering to go into a purchase with monthly mortgage insurance payments, as it was easier than trying to save the amount needed for a full down payment.

The statistics support this idea as well. According to a recent study by USA Today and Bank of America, half of Millennials say they have virtually no cushion to fall back on, and 53 percent say they live paycheck to paycheck. This doesn’t mean they don’t have money — it means their habits for handling money are different based on their circumstances (student loan debt, etc.).

The survey adds that when asked what they are saving for, Millennials typically say “a vacation” or “a house.” They also believe being able to afford travel and treating their friends and family (70 percent) outweighs owning a dream house (40 percent).

Going back to the idea of boating as a permanent social experience to be used for short and simple vacations at the drop of a hat, we can work boating into their existing financial framework, so it becomes a lifelong activity.

All of this is on point with much of what was discussed in the webinar — that we need to grow in order to reach any and all new markets.

For more detail on this topic, be sure to watch the archive of the webinar and read our April feature article “Next is Now.”

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