Last week we reached out to our readers to ask questions that are top of mind in regards to the hobby of classic boating. One question kept coming up. What are we doing to attract younger folks to the hobby of classic boating? We here at Woody Boater of course have an opinion. An opinion based on years of thinking this over not just as hobbyist, but as marketing professionals. Why we created Woody Boater for in the first place. What in the end we are talking about is recruitment. An open door….The issue here is simple actually. It’s relevance. One must connect on an emotional level with ones passion. That’s it. There is no rational reason to ever own a classic boat. It’s all fashion. A classic boat, in fact any boat in most cases is a want, not a need. One must have a good foundation in life to even be dreaming of a boat. There are charts and graphs about this.Below is Maslow’s hierarchy of needs pyramid. This is the common go to when describing ones needs in ones life.
Now I show this chart to illustrate a point. To a 15 year old, there needs are a game boy, iphone, and dating. OK and food.. To a 20 year old, it’s school, or a job. And being secretly terrified of the future. Boating is not even in the picture. Even if they grew up on a lake as a kid. They are focused on life. So. Youth to our hobby, starts around 30. Yes there are special cases. Like Parker Salin pictured below with another fellow under 30 Woody Boater Martin Belcher. That’s Martin’s restored boat they are sitting in front of.
Parker owns three classic boats. Works on them him self. Why? What is in there hierarchy of needs that drives them? Is that the key to Classic Boating, vs just boating. Is the hierarchy of needs just for boating? Well. Yes and no. Yes from a stand point, that for less passionate folks then Martin or Parker, one must be in a place of life that one can afford a boat and must be near water of course. And be able to spend time and money on something that sits un used for some time. Art.
A classic boat, is more than that. It requires a certain passion to be different at this age. Its NOT about a memory as a kid. These kids grew up in front of laptops, Not the radio. There MUST be a connection to something else. And that is were we shift gears for a second. To Hot Rodding. Look around within the hot rod culture. Watch TV. Hot rods are cool for the under 30 crowd. There must be a way for folks under 50 these days to connect. And that’s “Culture” Lifestyle” I know I know, here I go again. But its about art, fashion and the most important thing. FUN! If its not fun and gives back something back in an emotional way. Forget about it. As Texx says. No kid on the planet wants to sit around at a boat show and talk about screw sizes and how well preserved the boat is. They want to go boating! But in a more connected way. With some style. Mike Mayer is our poster child on this. His hot rod triple is fun times ten. No matter what water he is on, trust me, his cool Woody with that massive V8 is respected for not just its style, but also the power and fun ratio.
What needs to be done!
First. don’t think of youth programs as just 10 year olds building racers. Sorry, I am going to put it out there. It’s all good. And part of the solution, but NOT the entire solution. And the good folks at the ACBS are all over that so thats covered. But nothing is being done for the 30 year old. Is it a marketing campaign to folks just entering that part of there lives that a boat is a reasonable dream. Only they have the DNA of Parker and Mike, Martin that makes them want more. To need more out of the boating experience. What about featuring the under 3K boats at the shows. Give away cheap classic plastic boats to under 30’s to get started. mentor a 30 year old. Plant seeds. the boats will do the rest. We here at Woody boater are just one opinion. Yours is critical to keep this going. Your comments are part of the story and solution. This story should be a collective town hall meeting on the subject, so we can all gather and make changes to how we put on shows and most importantly, events to make things more fun. thanks for your opinion, let it rip!