Marine industry still missing the boat on diversity
By Jonathan Sweet, Editor-in-Chief
December 3, 2013
Filed under Jonathan Sweet
One of the most significant facts that struck me immediately upon starting at Boating Industry was the lack of diversity in our industry.
Attend any industry event – consumer or trade – and you know what I’m talking about. Even more disturbing, though, is how many people in the industry don’t seem to care or understand. That was brought home again by a recent survey we conducted here at BI as part of our 2014 forecast coverage coming up in the January issue.
In that survey, we asked respondents – which included dealers, suppliers, manufacturers, etc. – to rank how concerned they were about several challenges to the future of the boating industry. Ranking dead last was the lack of minorities participating in boating. Only 10 percent said they were very concerned about the issue. More than 35 percent weren’t concerned and another 30 percent were basically neutral on the issue.
In truth, it doesn’t really surprise me after attending several industry seminars on the topic. At IBEX, for example, Lopez Negrete, the marketing firm the RBFF has hired to help it reach out to Hispanics, delivered an amazing session on marketing to that audience. There were less than 20 people in the room at a show reporting attendance of more than 4,500.
Dr. Steve Murdock pointed it out at his presentation at last year’s Marine Dealer Conference & Expo: You need look no further than the 2012 election to see the growing importance of changing demographics. After all, we saw a president re-elected despite losing the white vote by 20 points.
We need younger buyers, more diverse buyers, more segments of the population participating in boating. Whether you like it or not, this is the future.