If you're looking to market to hip, influential youngsters, ride the wave to surfers. They tend to be affluent—after all, living near the ocean isn't cheap—and they represent the elusive young male demographic.
Even better, nonsurfers who live the surfing lifestyle are another market to target, giving you more bang for your marketing buck. This means you don't have to stick to the coasts with your marketing, as surfing products are popular with even those who live far from the beaches. "They just want to have the feel of that relaxed Southern California lifestyle," says Charlie Anderson, associate publisher of Transworld SURF magazine. "We're very fortunate that way, because it draws more than just the sports-specific market."
There are about 2.3 million surfers in the U.S., concentrated in coastal regions like California, Florida, the Carolinas, Hawaii and Puerto Rico. For surfers, surfing is more a lifestyle than a sport. It can be difficult for nonsurfers to understand the reasons behind the devotion that surfers show to this way of life. "Pro surfer Brad Gerlach has said it's like going to Mars and coming back and trying to explain to someone who's never been to Mars what the experience is like," says Greg Cruse, director of the Western Surfing Association. "It's addictive, and it gets in your blood."
It's not only surfers who long for this lifestyle. "People who buy products that are influenced by surf marketing is quadruple the number of surfers, because the guys in the Midwest who are playing surf video games and watching surf videos consider themselves surfers at some level and are buying the products that appeal to that community," says Anderson.
The market also tends to be young—Transworld SURF magazine hits the 16 to 22 age range—and is 80 percent male. But you can also find older surfers, who favor the longboard over the shortboard because it floats better and is easier to paddle. Surfers are also health-oriented. "They're people who want to have a healthy life and a healthy atmosphere," says Anderson. "The ocean is kind of the fountain of youth."