Embrace Innovative Features to Sell the Boating Lifestyle

marketing plan48 Cantius Cruisers with sunshadeBuilders and dealers lure in new boaters and buyers with new features and options that have maximum impact on the boating experience

There’s a balance between high-tech features that drive up the cost of the boat, and adding features that really matter to boaters – features that provide maximum impact on their attraction to boating.

In a recent article from the January 2014 issue of Boating Industry, Industry Leaders Talk Marketing Content, leaders during a panel discussion at the 2013 Marine Dealer Conference and Expo discussed how new features can help create new boaters.

“Keep bringing innovation, that’s what brings people to the showroom,” said Ron Huibers of Volvo Penta.

Panelists went on to say that expensive high-tech bells and whistles are what consumers are demanding. In fact, market share is up for boats with “touch screens and high end stereo systems that they expect to see in their car.”

Many would say that the concern is that these new technology features are also thought to drive up the cost of a boat… and price is something that the boating industry has seen escalate over the years.

But I would argue that there are many innovations that can greatly impact a boater’s desire to buy a boat – or a consumer’s desire to become a boater – without having a big impact on the price of the boat. And these new innovations are the exciting features that consumers are demanding when they invest in boating.

With the industry’s eye on affordability these days (necessary to the long-term growth of our industry), understanding that there’s a difference between adding cost and adding value is more vital than ever.

For example, on average, adding a SureShade retractable sunshade system as a new feature represents a relatively small percentage of the cost of a boat. But the impact on the design and comfort of open deck cockpits makes a huge difference to a boater’s experience… and boaters and dealers are continually sharing that the shade is very often one of the first innovative features to catch a boater’s eye.

Chris Jamieson, a dealer with Hampton Watercraft & Marine in NY who sells our shade systems on Boston Whaler, Tiara and Formula commented that:

“Many people are drawn to the shade before they check out the boat – it’s a great way to catch their attention”.

As a builder, you want to stay ahead of the trends when it comes to boat design. You need to not only embrace new innovations, but make them new standards for your boat lines. As consumers see these new innovations come on the market they are demanding them… and even expecting them.

As a dealer, you also want to be up on the latest trends – and maybe even be the first to introduce these latest innovations in boating to your customers. Boaters often look to their dealers as a source of information – everything from new features and options they should have to how to maintain their boat. So be knowledgeable about what’s new and exciting in boating, and be smart about how you position features so that you are conveying added value in terms of lifestyle and enjoyment, not added cost.

Demonstrating that you are on top of the latest by introducing these innovative features will not only help you stand out from your competition, but it will help lure in more boaters and buyers to the boating lifestyle and drive the industry forward.

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Dana Russikoff

Business Leader & Co-Founder at SureShade
As the Business Leader and Co-Founder at SureShade - The Shady Side of Boating, Dana is responsible for all business development with boat builders and dealers. Installed on over 35 different boat brands globally and available as a factory-install feature or aftermarket upgrade, SureShade is the new standard for shade in the marine industry.