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.
List Services Corp., which manages Cruising World and Sailing World subscriber files, reports that boaters are discerning consumers with a great deal of discretionary income and are devoted to spending time on their boats and traveling extensively for pleasure and also often for business.
Most enthusiasts subscribe to boating or sailing publications such as Soundings, Power and Motoryacht, Motorboating, Salt Water Sportsman, Yachting, Sail, Hot Boat and others.
A Range of Resources
Maritime and outdoor recreation publications have a powerful draw when marketing to boaters. Many boating magazines now feature articles on fundamental sailing techniques, navigation and equipment-usage tips—all valuable content.
Yachting magazine's subscriber list—offered by the Millard Group—frequently is used by direct mailers and retailers. The magazine has 69,126 active subscribers with an average income of $325,000. Average market value of total real estate holdings is $963,000, and 26 percent of these subscribers own waterfront property.
Most boaters, especially yachters have the money to spend and the purchasing power to respond to big offers, says Christian Battaglia, assistant account manager for Millard Group, a list company.
Conversely, if your target is boat owners who fish, List Services offers B.A.S.S., a file comprised of avid freshwater fishers and subscribers to BassMaster. Deemed as the leading magazine devoted entirely to bass fishing, the publication's aim is to keep its readers updated on fishing tournaments, local chapter affiliations and boat owner insurance, among other topics. The median age of those on this file is 45, with an average household income of $63,342. The active members on this file make an average annual fishing expenditure of $1,928.
Outside the publication arena, an additional resource to tap is Compiled Solutions' Boat, Yacht and Commercial Boat Owners Masterfile. This compiled file represents 394,026 boat owner names gleaned from Coast Guard registration data. According to Elbrecht, class of ship is a widely used method of segmentation for separating the boating market. Pleasure, Fishing, Merchant, Rescue and Government class ship selects are available on this list.
What They Buy
Most boaters are good candidates for any upscale activity offerings, says Brian Manning, list manager, Direct Media. They're ideal for offers of clothing, travel, outdoor, recreation and sports publications, apparel, catalogs, and credit cards.
And according to Info-Link's Ellis, insurance companies are starting to tap this profitable marketplace, taking advantage of their numerous assets to insure. "If you have a boat, you probably have a job," affirms Ellis. "If you have a job, you probably have a house, car, etc. These are assets to insure. These people also are attractive credit card candidates."
List Services, for example, recommends its Cruising World and Sailing World subscriber lists for high ticket, credit card, fund-raising, travel, and boating and sailing offers.