A challenge to get Hispanics into boating

Published on November 7th, 2013

By Richard Armstrong, Soundings Trade Only Today
Companies that ignore the exploding Hispanic population in the United States and fail to engage that market will miss out on long-term business opportunities, conferees at one of many seminars held at IBEX were told. What’s more, they were cautioned, the industry is lagging behind mainstream corporations in progressively nurturing burgeoning new markets.

“Exposure early on is your dividend that is going to pay off in the long term,” said speaker Lou Sandoval, founder and co-owner of Karma Yacht Sales in Chicago, vice chairman of the Recreational Boating Leadership Council’s diversity committee and a man of Hispanic descent. “Break down the barriers that divide us.”

The “barriers” are documented in reams of data collected by the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation, which hosted the seminar and is in the beginning stages of a five-year initiative to grow Hispanic participation in fishing and boating.

A ‘total effort’
“Hispanics don’t come from a fishing and boating culture,” said Ed Cantu of the market research firm Lopez Negrete Communications, hired by the RBFF to lead its Hispanic marketing plan. “The three key steps to overcoming those cultural barriers are exposure, experience and an invitation.”

To that end, one early drumbeat coming from the RBFF based on its findings is to encourage all industry players to make a concerted effort to better engage Hispanics in their markets.

“This effort has to be a total effort by the whole industry,” RBFF president and CEO Frank Peterson said. “That’s manufacturers, distributors, dealers and retailers.”

Other hurdles to overcome are, to some degree, a language barrier; an all-inclusive family principle for recreation among Hispanics; limited exposure to boating and fishing and the absence of a cultural identity with those activities.

“The ability to see themselves [in the boating lifestyle] is very important,” said Gerry Lorado of Lopez Negrete.

The numbers
When it comes to the changing face of America – and the boating market of the future – the numbers don’t lie …read on.

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