By Paul Barbagallo
He is the dad who prepares a bait and tackle box with his son at dawn, the woman who returns to the office Monday morning with a fresh tan, and the man who has saltwater bounding through his veins.
The boater demographic, albeit heterogeneous, composes an extremely profitable segment of the buying population. Whether their maritime hobby calls for a quality-time cruise with the family or a weekend fishing jaunt with the guys, boaters are great prospects for a variety of offers.
People who race sailboats are a sizable market as well, although somewhat different in makeup. However, many of them own small sailboats and don't fit the traditional demographics.
"These people tend to have disposable incomes by virtue of the fact that they're buying these 'toys,'" says Jack Ellis, president, Info-Link Marketing, a company that rents out a national boat-owner mailing list of 10 million names. "Boaters have demonstrated the means to purchase high-priced items. Therefore, they're good credit risks."
Who They Are
Boaters are people who regularly participate in recreational sports and outdoor activities. As Mike Elbrecht, marketing manager for Compiled Solutions, so fittingly puts it: "They're not shut-ins." More adventurous than most consumers, boat owners make up a universe of mostly well-educated and affluent individuals.
Although these upscale prospects are mostly men—about 95 percent of those on most boat-owner lists are male—Ellis says there's been a slight shift in the last few years that includes more female boat owners.
Ellis asserts that there's a common "birds-of-a-feather" mindset among those in this demographic. He shares the following example: a marketing campaign that targeted neighbors of boat owners who didn't own boats themselves. Targeting these affluent, residential areas proved successful, Ellis says, for understanding the fundamental consumer need to keep up with the Joneses.