At the helm: Where your buyers live

Spend much time at any industry meeting these days and the subject of Millennials is likely to come up.

And rightfully so: selling to this now-largest generation is going to be key to the future success of the boating industry. At the same time, reaching this cohort has proven challenging. They buy differently, live differently and play differently than even my Generation X does, let alone the Baby Boomers that have made up the core of boating for so long.

They are settling down later and choosing to get married, buy houses and have children at an older age.

A new Pew Research Center analysis of U.S. Census Bureau highlights that. For the first time since at least 1880, Americans 18 to 34 are more likely to be living with their parents (32.1 percent) than to be living with a spouse or partner (31.6 percent). Fourteen percent are living alone and 22 percent have some other living arrangement, such as a roommate, college dorm or living with another relative.

The Great Recession accelerated that change, but the trend started more than 50 years ago. In 1960, the percentage of married/cohabitating 18-to-34-year-olds peaked at 62 percent, with only 20 percent living in their parents’ home.

Boaters are also predominantly male, and this trend is most pronounced among men as 35 percent of men are living with their parents, compared to 29 percent of women.

College-educated individuals are much more likely to be living on their own. Only 19 percent live with parents, compared to 36 percent of those who did not graduate college.

As for geography, it’s a mixed bag. Young adults living on the East or West Coasts — where many of the highest rent/property value metros are located — are more likely to live with their parents. That includes prime boating areas like the Mid-Atlantic, New England, Florida and the Pacific Northwest. On the other hand, places like the Upper Midwest and Mountain states have much higher numbers of young adults living on their own.

Whether it be boat rentals, boat clubs or peer-to-peer rentals, it shows the importance of alternate methods of getting people on the water. We know that boating tends to be a family activity and that most boat owners tend to be homeowners, so these trends are
important to watch. And they’re not likely to change, as all the evidence indicates this trend will only continue.


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