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The Evolving Landscape of Boating: Tapping into the Next Generation

The boating industry stands at a crossroads, with the next generation of boaters offering both unique challenges and promising opportunities. Drawing from an in-depth video discussion by the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) and subsequent insights, this article delves deeper into the barriers and opportunities that lie ahead. The emphasis is on understanding and catering to the evolving needs of the next generation.


  • Perception of Boating:The perception that boating is a luxury reserved for the affluent persists. This is further exacerbated by a lack of representation in the boating community. As highlighted, “If you don’t see someone that looks like you, you don’t feel it’s for you.”
  • Education and Knowledge:Many potential boaters lack basic knowledge about boating. This includes understanding how to purchase a boat, the intricacies of slips, storage, and more. “You don’t know what you don’t know,” aptly summarizes this barrier.
  • Changing Media Consumption:The younger generation, especially Gen Z and Millennials, have diverse media consumption habits. They are “media snackers,” transitioning from one platform to another. To reach them, a diverse media strategy is essential. “There’s not one channel anymore. It’s important to use all available channels to connect with audiences, as everyone uses technology differently.”


  • Diverse Representation:Genuine content that showcases real boaters from diverse backgrounds is essential. Representation can inspire potential boaters, making them think, “I can be that kid.”
  • Education and Outreach:Demystifying boat ownership is crucial. Potential boaters need comprehensive resources covering all aspects of boating, from purchasing to safety. “Training is critical. With many new boaters coming out on the water, it’s essential to provide guides on safety and other aspects of boating.”
  • Community Building:Building communities around boating can foster a sense of belonging. It’s about connecting with those who share similar interests and showcasing those in the community, especially those interested in like-minded activities.
  • Adapting to Consumer Needs:Brands must evolve based on consumer needs. Just as companies like Uber and Amazon Prime have adapted their services, the boating industry should innovate to cater to modern consumer expectations.“Brands like Uber and Amazon Prime have evolved based on consumer needs. Similarly, the boating industry needs to evolve its services, like boat finders and dealer finders, to cater to the modern consumer’s expectations.” I’ll plug SHIPSHAPE the national database of marine repair and refit here SHIPSHAPE
  • Promoting Sustainable Boating:The younger generation is environmentally conscious. While electric boats weren’t directly addressed in the discussion, sustainable boating options could appeal to them. “Conservation and nature are significant motivators for the growth and emerging segments. The industry should consider how it promotes sustainable boating practices.”
  • Leveraging Technology:The next generation is tech-savvy. Platforms that allow potential boaters to find dealers, research brands, and more can be beneficial.
  • Rentals and Charters:Offering rentals and charters can introduce more people to the boating lifestyle. “Boat rentals and charters are critical for introducing the younger generation to the boating lifestyle. They like to be part of groups, so creating group boating experiences can be beneficial.”

The next generation of boaters presents a vast opportunity for the boating industry. By understanding their needs, breaking down barriers, and leveraging opportunities, the industry can ensure a bright future. It’s all about connecting authentically with the next generation and inviting them to be part of the wonderful world of boating.

Merrill Charette

Brought to you by 

SHIPSHAPE.PRO – Innovative platform that bridges the gap in marine repair

MIDA.PRO – Marine Industry Digital Agency – Web dev / Marketing

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