Grow Boating Inc. said today that the board of the National Marine Manufacturers Association approved full restoration of Grow Boating assessments, effective Jan. 1.
The decision comes after a Grow Boating funding task force, composed of representatives of the Grow Boating board, recommended that the NMMA board reinstate full assessment collection to reignite the Discover Boating campaign next year.
"Restoring Grow Boating assessments is a necessary step to rebuild our industry following the recession and effectively return to promoting the boating lifestyle long-term," said Scott Deal, president of Maverick Boat Co. and chairman of the Grow Boating board. "The importance of continuing to protect and invest in the valuable, industry-owned brand asset - Discover Boating - cannot be underestimated."
Assessments were temporarily reduced by 85 percent on July 1, pending the development of a new marketing strategy and an analysis of the effect of the recession on consumers. In August, the Grow Boating board selected Olson Co. Inc., a Minneapolis-based marketing firm, as agency of record to aid in the development and execution of a new integrated marketing campaign.
"We've always known Grow Boating would require long-term industry support to see real growth in the form of an increase in participation to increase sales over time. We began to see our efforts paying off with participation increases in 2006, 2007 and 2008 after a decade-long decline," said Thom Dammrich, president of Grow Boating Inc. and the NMMA.
"In response to economic challenges, we scaled back funding and program reach in 2009 and 2010 in order to immediately address the needs of manufacturers and dealers. The decision to restore assessments reaffirms the industry's commitment to a national integrated marketing campaign and the importance of a unified effort to grow the market for boating."
To date, the industry-wide program says it has made significant strides in growing boating, including:
- The Discover Boating campaign has generated more than 190,000 prospects, with 19,276 of those prospects having purchased a boat.
- More than 500,000 direct referrals from DiscoverBoating.com to boat manufacturer websites.
- An estimated 14,000 boats have been sold to first-time boat owners since the start of the campaign. According to a study by Michigan State University, the average boater will make $131,500 in lifetime boat and engine purchases based on today's dollars, equating to $1.84 billion in lifetime boat sales.
The restored assessments are projected to collect $4.5 million by the end of next year to fund the campaign. A preliminary Discover Boating marketing plan was approved by the Grow Boating board at the International BoatBuilders Exhibition and Conference in September, which had a top-line focus on the following in 2011:
- Enhance DiscoverBoating.com content and mobile readiness.
- Augment lead generation and nurturing systems to provide enriched consumer data to manufacturers and dealers.
- Boost reach of target consumers via mass, social, digital and search media.
- Heighten public relations support.
- Expand the Marine Five Star Dealership Certification program.
"The decision by the Grow Boating Board to restore full assessments is testament to the marine industry's commitment to return to a united, national recreational boating campaign," said Phil Keeter, vice president of Grow Boating Inc. and president of the Marine Retailers Association of America. "The revamped marketing direction will help us to promote boating and its benefits, drive participation and, ultimately, increase boat sales."