Aug | Sep 2021

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Editor’s Comment

>> This time… bust may not follow boom

Twelve months on, and the hint of the golden opportunity the pandemic could offer our industry in the summer of 2020 is now a reality being grasped, as can be witnessed in our latest annual round-up of the European leisure marine market on p40. If 2020 was a year of lockdowns, damage limitation and uneven recovery, 2021 will be the year where the industry made real headway and set the platform for long-term prosperity.

Rising commodity prices, skilled staff shortages, supply chain issues – are all putting OEMs under pressure to maximise on potential. However, they too could prove a blessing in disguise, if they are checked and fall back sooner rather than later (as one might expect as bottlenecks slowly alleviate) curbing the natural urge to ramp up production, potentially flooding the market in 2022/23 and undoing some of the gains.

“The downward age tick and improved gender balance in consumer demographics underpins the boom.”

The mood music from Europe echoes that from across the pond – that we’re seeing levels of demand and boating engagement not witnessed for decades. Crucially, it’s the downward age tick and improved gender balance in consumer demographics which underpins the boom and is the most robust indicator that perhaps this time, bust may not follow boom.

As the virus mutates, the quick escape the world had once anticipated as vaccines rolled out, looks unlikely to happen. The reality is Covid will be pegging back freedoms for many more months, as spikes and infections ripple across the globe, while the psychological impact will last for years, making it less likely that the world’s love affair with boating will end in divorce once competitors for consumer spend re-emerge from their forced hibernation.

The psychology of the pandemic has led to fundamental societal changes that won’t be easily reversed. It’s a fact the NMMA and Informa are banking on with their plans for the new look Miami International Boat Show (see p28). The event could provide a template for how best to engage with consumers going forward and will be used to take the NMMA’s Discover Boating brand to the next level. The portal has seen a 100% increase in traffic since the pandemic – a pattern mirrored by similar ‘grow boating’ websites and initiatives around the world.

Harvesting the data from consumers and proactively using that to drive increased engagement, especially among the young, is critical and another weapon in the industry’s arsenal to ensure the industry remains on song for years to come.

Ed Slack | IBI Editor

Don’t miss the video embedded throughout the magazine as well as this issue’s supplements:  Taiwan Boat Show 2022 and METSTRADE 2021 Exhibitor List & Floorplan

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