Genmar digs deep into women’s market

Boat building conglomerate Genmar Holdings Inc. may not be bragging too loudly about it, but the company is putting forth a substantial effort to get women more involved in boating.
Late last summer, Genmar reported that it had launched its Women Making Waves program, which helps dealers target women through educational seminars that teach boating basics. Since then, however, the boat builder has only expanded its emphasis on women.
During a meeting of women executives at the Genmar Evinrude Backwater Fishing School in August, new ideas were borne out of discussions between Genmar’s Marcia Kull and the other participants.
One such discussion resulted in Genmar’s decision to sponsor Women at the Helm days during four of the National Marine Manufacturers Association’s annual boat shows; New York, Chicago, Miami and San Diego. As part of the sponsorship, Genmar assembled a team of female teachers with boating experience to help women attending the shows learn the basics of boating. If successful, there is hope that the women’s days will be offered at all NMMA boat shows.
Another discussion during this event led to Genmar and BoatU.S. co-sponsoring an online survey for women in which participants will report on their boat decision-making and purchasing experience. The results of the survey will be shared with boat dealers in the industry in an effort to improve the overall boat buying experience for women, Kull reports.
In addition, Genmar sponsored this year’s Women’s Expo at the Minneapolis Convention Center, which was expected to attract roughly 75,000 attendees. Kull and other Genmar representatives attended the event for the second year in a row, conducting “targeted market research on boat design.”
The boat builder had several models on display. Women who took the time to inspect and evaluate the boats received a goodie bag, compliments of Women Making Waves.
“Their opinions will weigh heavily as we work on our new 2005 designs for introduction in August 2004,” Kull says.
The manufacturer isn’t relying solely on its own research, however. Kull says the company hired a market research professor this past fall to analyze existing research on marketing and selling to women and to provide specialized instruction on the topic at the sales school for each of the Genmar brands.
Genmar also launched a Women Making Waves (WMW) Web site in January at www.womenmakingwaves.com that allows dealers to post upcoming WMW events, share news clips and provide participants’ comments from past events. The company currently offers WMW Point of Purchase materials on the Genmar Extranet.
How will Genmar know if all this work has paid off? Kull says results from the use of POP materials and the hosting of events are measurable.
“Our dealers will tell us if these efforts translate into new boat sales,” she explains. “We believe they will. But from a bigger picture, our success will come from helping our dealers serve their customers and communities better. We believe the WMW initiative will do that.” — Liz Walz
If women’s dreams came true …
According to Genmar, a women’s dream boat might include:
> A high tech engine with easy starting and low maintenance
> Seats and controls that adjust to
various sizes
> Easy opening hatches
> Ample and innovative storage
> Safety certification
> Private head/changing room

According to Volvo, a women’s dream car might:
> Send a wireless message to a service station when it needs maintenance
> Offer more storage space
> Feature dirt-repellant paint and glass, and machine-washable seat covers
> Parallel park itself
> Offer run-flat tires
> Come with a headrest that
accommodates ponytails

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