Letters from Spain. – Oscar Siches
The right boat for the right user?
In his letter a few days ago, David Lewin told us about those little things that make all the difference when applying to a boat the knowledge of the local conditions where she will be used. When dealing with the UK, the UK weather and sea specifics as salinity, tides, currents and short waves must be taken in consideration in order to make some modifications on the boats and adapt them to Great Britain’s sailing conditions.
I will complement here that hardware approach with something that David also mentioned in his letter: culture. Culture is defined by the Cambridge dictionary as “a way of life, especially the general customs and beliefs, of a particular group of people at a particular time” which in simple words is “the way we are”.
People – and culture- change with times. We are not behaving like we did in the ’60s or even during the ‘90s, as the world is changing faster and faster and we have to adapt to the ways those changes affect our lives.
During the last 15 years, many boaters have changed the way they use boats. We in the marinas industry have noticed a gap between early 20’s and 45 years old not practising nautical activities anymore. The 45 years old are the old fashion yachtsmen, and they are ageing and widening the gap. The youngsters join the sailing school or the parent’s yacht until university time, then the nautical hobby is replaced by other activities not as demanding as yachting is, activities or sports providing sensations faster like squash or tennis or driving a quad in the mountains, demanding less investment and operating costs. This is slightly different for each country – related to culture- but some characteristics are common to all of them: young people prefer not to make a big investment and run (sometimes high) maintenance costs for a long time. Of course, one sets sail and is free at sea when using the boat, but there is a dependency protocol (even if simple) to follow, being bound to the club or marina. Many are slowly drifting towards join partnership when buying a boat, or chartering, which gives the advantage of selecting with absolute freedom the region where to sail. This is only a known example of the way young people buy or use boats nowadays. There are many questions we should ask them, behaviours to investigate in order to create a boat and an environment friendly and attractive enough to get those missing nautical enthusiasts in the water again. What do young couples prefer? What about children onboard? What is the ratio between people anchoring in a bay for the night or the ones willing a booked place at a marina to jump ashore for dinner? Which is the profile of people taking the boat out for the day and which is the one going cruising for two nights or more? We must research the behaviour of boat users to make it easy for the potential ones to become our clients. The car industry does it. The fashion industry does it. Supermarket chains do it. If we can predict people’s behaviour, we can be ahead with the product changes and make it more attractive to future new clients.
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