To make waves with the surfer market you need to be authentic, and that means truly understanding the market. "A big mistake marketers make is coming off not knowing the market and branding to them in an unauthentic way," says Anderson. A part of being authentic is to use respected surfers in your marketing. "Don't use people outside the market ... Use people that these kids are following, the Kelly Slaters and the Dane Reynolds of the world," Anderson says.
The best way to create messaging that rings authentic is to have a surfer write or vet the material for you. Reps at Transworld SURF magazine, for example, help advertisers create messaging that works with surfers. And if you can't get someone who's surfing-savvy to help you, it may be best to leave out the surfing references altogether. "It's difficult for marketers to target surfers with a surfing message," says Cruse. "Surfers will figure out the advantages for themselves. So if it's a health product, if you just portray the health benefits of it they'll see that and put it into their own world."
As for reaching surfers, this market is digitally savvy and responds well to e-mail newsletters, social media like blogs and Facebook, and search engine advertising. Another way to reach surfers is through events. Surfers are viewed as early adopters, so many businesses lavish free products on them at competitions. The U.S. Open of Surfing attracts 400,000 to Huntington Beach, Calif., and is a good place to get products into the hands of surfers. The Eastern Surfing Association is the largest amateur surfing association in the world, with 10,000 members and 600 events annually, says Anderson, and retailers and manufacturers of surfing products often sponsor their own events.
Surfers can be a hard market to target. But it's worth the effort, because they're also early adopters who influence the purchasing decisions of their families and of nonsurfers who want to live the lifestyle. Be authentic, get help with your messaging if you need it and be ready to surf your way to success.