Watering the seeds of boating growth

Published on November 25th, 2013

The first-phase findings of a study to identify “key levers” for translating participation in boating into passionate engagement with the sport and eventually boat ownership have been released to sharpen the focus of efforts to reverse a decline in ownership.

The study, commissioned by the Marine Industries Association of South Florida and the Active Interest Media Marine Group, examined national boating and demographic data and trends, as well as those specific to Florida, and surveyed 3,500 boat owners – subscribers to AIM boating magazines.

The study’s aim is to identify the most likely candidates for boating, estimate the size of the potential boating market nationally and, in Florida, explore the pathways of entry into boating that are most likely to result in long-term participation and eventual ownership. It also hopes to determine the main obstacles to growth in ownership. The first-phase results were unveiled at the Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show.

“It’s in all of our interests to see the industry grow and to bring in new blood,” especially in South Florida and Fort Lauderdale, says Efrem “Skip” Zimbalist III, chairman and CEO of Active Interest Media. AIM is the parent company of Show Management, which is part of the AIM Marine Group and produces FLIBS. MIASF owns the show.

Outpacing golf, tennis

Thirty-one percent of the U.S. population has engaged in some form of boating, giving the sport a significant edge over activities such as tennis, which has a participation rate of just 8.1 percent, and golf, at 9 percent, says Nate Fristoe of RRC Associates, the Boulder, Colo., market research and consumer intelligence firm that authored the study.

Yet the industry has not been able to translate those high levels of participation into boat ownership. Although boating participation went up an average 3.2 percent a year from 2002 to 2012, boat ownership has declined by an average of 0.3 percent each year. Meanwhile, new-boat buyers are getting older – up from an average age of 44.9 in 1997 to 52.7 in 2011. – Soundings Trade Only, read on

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