This may come off as a bit of a rant but facts are facts. The power boating industry is not weak as it may appear to some, as the matter of fact its booming in all segments except the Performance side. A recent analysis done by the Freedonia Group Inc. reported sales of recreational boating products are expected to increase 6.1 percent per year to $×.1 billion in 2018. I have a good idea of why! You could call it an opinion but when MasterCraft is selling 14 boats a day and we don’t have a strong entry level Baja anymore, all opinions may count for something. This last week the mainstream players in the boating industry were all at the IBEX Show looking, planning, and buying TECHNOLOGY and INNOVATION for their brands.
All the way down to the basic entry level boats the manufacturers are incorporating tons of new consumer features. The reason why: They’re building better boats than ever before, creating something new and innovative to give the boater desire and want to buy a new boat. Sure, you can get some new Garmin screen in about any boat. But today’s boats feature numerous wireless controls, touch screens, steering wheel mounted switches to providing convenience and cool factor to the driver. There are new shapes and styles for ergonomic comfort and style appeal. These boats are not the boat your dad had 20 years ago.
It doesn’t stop with look and feel, there are numerous driving functions from automatic attitude control to repeatable operator setting and touch screens. Today’s boats are advancing and this is the call to the performance boating industry that says if your not showing up to the one major trade show of the year designed just for you, then what were you doing this last week of September? Don’t get me wrong, we did see Jay Pillini ofPillini Marine Technologies the Nor-Tech crew, and John Cosker from Mystic, but what was missing was a dozen of the industry’s best known brands.
What walking this show taught me was that people want to go boating as much if not more than ever. What it also taught me is a new paint job with some new billet hardware isn’t reason enough to buy a new boat. If the performance boat builder of yesterday wants to thrive again then they better get out and see what makes a new boat buyer buy a new boat. The likes Kia and Hyundai are making entry level cars with interiors and refinement previously found on only luxury imports. Today’s builders just can’t sit back and always rely on a new engine and drive package to keep them upfront. There are a couple of builders who get this and always continue to refine the product but as a segment we are loosing ground fast. This is 2015 the time of Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, PowerBoat Nation, and Amazon. How we buy and what we buy is now influenced by more than a pretty face.