Charting the course for future success

By Stephanie Vatalaro

To build a pipeline of future participants, we must start engaging younger, more multicultural audiences now. That could be said about any number of things, but we know it to be true about fishing and boating.

According to the latest U.S. Census Bureau report, for the first time in history, the white population has decreased and our country is seeing “unprecedented multiracial growth.” Also, consider this:

  • The 2021 Special Report on Fishing shows 79% of fishing participants in 2020 were white.
  • Additional data from RBFF reveals that 85% of today’s anglers fished before the age of 12 and 90% fished before 18.
  • Youth participation is critical, and the 2020 Census shows that 53% of today’s youth are multicultural, or non-white compared to 31% in 1990.

You see the opportunity? It’s about creating new programs and initiatives that chart the course to future success. And that should include outreach to the emerging U.S. majority populations.

Imagine a young, multicultural family who is new to fishing and boating decides to visit your tackle shop or boat dealership to get more info or get started. Is your business ready to support them? Do you know what they need? New audiences do have different needs and expectations than the traditional customer. And there are some simple yet effective things you can do to connect with them:

  • Share with your new customers convenient local fishing and boating access points and seasonal ideas for outings. They want to know where they can go close by to have a successful day on the water.
  • Provide them with easy, educational fishing and boating resources like how-to videos and shopping checklists
  • Emphasize the social aspects of fishing and boating in your outreach
  • Recommend cost-effective beginning fishing/boating equipment
  • Collect their contact information and follow up to tell them about all the wonderful experiences they’ll have on the water – In your emails, your social media, show them imagery and video that demonstrates the fun, adventure and relaxation they’ll enjoy with family and friends!

Over the last several years, RBFF has been priming the pump, reaching out to diverse new audiences to increase awareness of fishing and boating and inspire participation. This year’s Get On Board campaign featured some of our most successful multicultural outreach to date:

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I grew up in a fishing and boating family, and I hold a tremendous appreciation for my mentors - my grandfather and father – and for all those who built the industry as we know it today. I understand why many companies focus their sales strategies on the retention of existing customers and equipment upgrades. But someday in the not-too-distant future, you’re going to have to make a change. So why not plant the seed now?

Do it for the long-term success of your business, the health of the fishing and boating industries overall, and the aquatic conservation programs that rely on it.

Stephanie Vatalaro is the Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications at RBFF.

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