The doldrums

James Nolan runs US marketing specialist company James Nolan Associates James Nolan runs US marketing specialist company James Nolan Associates
Industry Database

One of the full descriptions of doldrums is “a state or period of inactivity, stagnation, or slump”. This is a pretty accurate summary of where our industry is over here right now.

Trade headlines are mostly about this or that company celebrating 30 years or 50 years, the launching of a bigger or smaller version of a particular model or, sadly, some people who have passed on.

There is an almost palpable yearning for passionate discussions and comments on how the impact of game changers into our market, like Amazon and Zipcar, are altering it for better or worse!  Unfortunately, they are not, but it is going to take something of that magnitude to change things. 

Millennials were thought/hoped to have the potential for a major impact. However, as a thoughtful article by Reagan Haynes in the April issue of Soundings Trade Only points out, cost (purchase price + annual upkeep) and time to use boats, are two of the biggest challenges that need solving.

Rentals and boat club memberships go part way to providing a solution but only if those users are competent boat users. Fractional ownership also goes part way but for an even smaller audience. 

Expecting the existing market infrastructure to adapt now seems far fetched. We need something along the lines of a new vision that says: Forget what we have done so far. We have oceans and millions of people – how do we get individuals and families to enjoy the water as and when they want in an affordable, fun and safe way?

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