The Marine Industry`s Model for Growth

54th Annual Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show
Oct. 31, 2013 Press Conference Presentation - Summary of Findings
The Marine Industry’s Model for Growth
The Marine Industries Association of South Florida (MIASF) is dedicated to the promotion,
professionalism, and advocacy of the South Florida marine industry. From its ownership of the Fort
Lauderdale International Boat Show to its support for other marine events, family recreational boating
and the range and quality of services available locally, the MIASF's mission is to promote, protect and
enhance boating as "The Lifestyle of South Florida". In service of that mission, MIASF has recognized the
need to quantify the growth potential of the industry over the next ten to fifteen years and has recently
completed phase one of the Marine Industry’s Model for Growth with the assistance of RRC Associates,
a market research and consulting firm specializing in recreation and travel.
The initial phase of the Marine Industry Model for Growth has taken key lessons from other industry’s
long range modeling work and attempted to develop a framework for translating participation into
engagement, and engagement into ownership. The work was designed to provide insights into who are
the most likely candidates for boating, estimation of the size of the potential boating market both
nationally and in Florida, exploration of the pathways of entry to boating that are most likely to result in
long-term participation and eventual ownership, and determination of the main obstacles to growth in
terms of increasing ownership. Given all of these inputs the Model then attempts to formulate realistic
growth trajectories the industry should strive for given current trends. Summarized below are select
highlights from this initial work.
Relative to other recreational pursuits, boating compares quite favorably in terms of the percent
of the U.S. population indicating they are participants. Almost 31 percent of the U.S. population
indicates some level of participation in boating. In contrast only about 9 percent indicate they
play tennis, and only about 8 percent indicate they are golfers.
According to studies from the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) the number
of adults boating in the U.S. has grown at a compounded annual growth rate of 3.2 percent from
2002 to 2012. In contrast the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that from 2002 to 2012 the number
of adults in the U.S. grew at a compounded annual growth rate of 0.8 percent. During that same
timeframe the compounded annual growth rate in the total number of boats was -0.3 percent.
Increases in population and participation are not positively correlated with gains in ownership,
and if ownership is the most meaningful metric for tracking industry success, then that
disconnect is not consistent with achieving long term growth.
Florida in particular shows a pattern of growth in population not translating into growth in boat
ownership. From 2000 to 2012 Florida’s population grew by 20.9 percent, while in contrast the
number of registered boats only grew by 2.9 percent. Florida ranks 8th in terms of population
growth but 17th in terms of growth in registered boats.
Post recession, per capita ownership rates declined in Florida more rapidly than elsewhere in
the U.S., but for the rest of the country per capita ownership rates began to decline well before
Population growth in Florida is projected to be strong over the next fifteen years, and while it is
true that much of this growth is in age groups with low probability of participation or ownership,
significant opportunities do exist in younger and increasingly diverse age groups.
The potential market size for boating varies by the criteria of interest. If simple potential ability
to participate in boating at any level is the criteria, then about 85 percent of the U.S. population
has the ability to participate at some level. If we drill down to adults with a history of boating,
then the number drops to about 28 percent of the population. Moving further down the line, if
we isolate current adult boating participants with annual household incomes of $75,000 or more
the number drops to 9 percent of the population. If ownership is the criteria then the number
drops to an estimated 5.3 percent of the population. If ownership and registration of a boat is
the criteria then the number drops to 4.1 percent of the population. Finally if we isolate the
number to be the percent of the population with a registered power or sail boat, the number
drops to 3.2 percent of the population, or about 10 million individuals. Building this final
number will involve extremely targeted marketing efforts informed by primary research.
Primary research conducted with Active Interest Media’s Marine Group publication readers has
provided unique insights into what most strongly influences initial entry into the sport. The
majority of power boaters had their first experience boating at 10 or younger (51 percent),
whereas the majority of sailors had their first boating experience at 18 or older (53 percent).
Prior to age 10 parents and grandparents are the primary conduit to boating participation.
Beginning in the early teens friends become extremely important in influencing entry into
boating. And while it may seem obvious, it is important to recognize that for any adult without
prior exposure to boating, friends will be the only likely source of introduction to boating.
Understanding these patterns of influence on introduction to boating will be important in the
formulation of meaningful growth strategies and tactics during the next phases of the Model.
Overall about 20 percent of Florida boaters indicate they have introduced 35 or more people to
the sport over the course of their lives. Troublingly 8 percent indicated they have not ever
introduced a single person to boating. Leveraging the influence of existing boaters will be an
important strategy moving forward.
In order identify who are the best evangelists for boating, Marine Group readers surveyed were
asked a series of questions about aspects of their personality and how they personally relate to
boating. Four statistically meaningful psychographic groupings emerged from the pattern of
observed response.
About 35 percent of boaters fall into a group we call "Families First." This group is very family
oriented and concerned about transmitting the tradition of boating within their family. Another
20 percent fall into a grouping we call “Modest Mates.” This group tends to have lower income
levels, is less socially connected, and generally follows the lead of others with regard to their
boating behavior. Twenty one percent of boaters fall into a category we call “Autonomous
Upper Crusts.” This group skews older, has the highest income and net worth, but are generally
rather unconcerned about their family and friends participation in boating and is in a mode of
winding down their own participation. Finally we have about 24 percent falling into a group we
call “Social Animals.” These are socially engaged leaders in the boating world who are
passionate about sharing boating with their friends and family. They are the youngest of the
groups and the group most likely to be single or not have kids. Social Animals are more than
twice as likely to have introduced 35 or more people to boating as any of the other groups.
Leveraging their influence has great potential for growing boating participation among adult
Given current trends there is the possibility that if the industry does nothing to encourage
greater levels of ownership, the number of boats in the U.S. could decline by as much as 13.5
percent by 2030. If efforts are made to capitalize on the points of leverage the research has
suggested could have meaningful impacts on boat ownership levels, the number of boats could
grow by as much as 15.4 percent by 2030.
For Florida future trending shows relative stability to moderate decline in terms of the number
of registered boats, with only about a 1 percent decline in the number of registered boats by
2030. If growth in the population and the dynamics of the market could be capitalized on the
number of registered boats could grow by as much as 35 percent by 2030.
The next step in the Marine Industry’s Model for Growth involves reviewing initial findings with
key stakeholders and obtaining feedback regarding the next research phase. This next phase
will refine the Model input parameters to isolate the effects of each leverage point in the
Model. Out of this effort a definitive action plan will be developed informed by Model
generated insights.