Roger will guide us through a reflection to the 2017 Sail America Industry Conference where Thom Dammrich, President, NMMA, shared his data on the emerging markets/demographics and the exciting new opportunities that lay ahead for the boating industry. But the same methods, the same story was no longer going to work to attract this audience. How have you changed your approach over the last few years to attract new markets? Have you changed your approach at all?
Research shows that the idealized, fantasy home for most people is a house on a hill over water that extends beyond the horizon. The siren song of the open sea calls to us all. Over the last century, sailing has progressed in North America from a merchant class profession to a luxury sport, enjoyed by the few with enough time, access and wealth to invest on the water.
In the US, that means sailing is the privilege of the few. Scan the docks. Sailors remain wealthier, whiter, and more male than almost any other pastime, with the possible exception of polo. That makes sailing, by definition, “exclusive”. It excludes the vast majority of our friends and colleagues who would love to venture onto the sea. And our marketing efforts, our communications, our vernacular, even the pictures we use to portray the sport, are all exclusive scenes that may as well be locked in time, black and white images of John & Jackie Kennedy playing the Nantucket Sound.