As many marine companies and manufacturers can confirm, the boating industry continues to observe a substantial rise in boat sales, likely to carry on for a long time, according to a recent report by CNBC. Since 2012, boat sales continued to remain on a steady rise, proving that even before the pandemic, recreational boating was popular amongst consumers. However, it wasn’t until the summer of 2020 — after regulations and shutdowns from the pandemic — that the industry saw an astronomical boom in boat sales and rise in demand. New boat sales hit a 13-year high of 318,550 units in 2020, according to the NMMA.
Boating is not only proving to be a great way to stay safe with family and friends, but it is also shedding light on other fun recreational activities on the water, such as angling and watersports. As the market grows, the typical boat buyer has evolved over time. The industry is seeing younger consumers, more women, and minorities in the market segment. The change in demographics is partly due to how well the marine industry has adapted over the years — boating has become more attractive than ever.
For instance, Boats Group found that nearly 60% of people submitting leads across their MLS platforms were first-time buyers, which can only mean more and more consumers are discovering the joys of boating. Advancements in technology have made boat ownership more appealing, with enhancements such as joystick control, state-of-the-art navigation systems, and automatic docking. Innovative programs, like boat clubs, are also attracting new customers into the boating world.
Due to the attractive lifestyle of boating, boat buying, in many ways, is thanks to word of mouth or experience-driven. All it takes is an invitation to go on a boat for the day or catching a glimpse of your neighbor’s new boat that makes you want to purchase one for yourself. Every customer entering the market has the potential to convert their circle of family and friends into customers in the future.
Another trend in the foreseeable future is an upgrade cycle, where we will see current owners trading in or upgrading to newer models. These trends, combined with the staying power of boating, suggest the boom in boat sales is here to stay.