Trends impact marine industry

Survey results show that suppliers and end-product manufacturers are feeling the impact of a more competitive environment resulting from trends such as low-cost imports, price discounting and slow market growth due largely to a weak economy. These trends have caused many marine end-product manufacturers to diversify their businesses to compete more effectively. Awnings, tents, repair work and custom boat covers for used boats are some areas they have expanded into. The major trends and their impacts to marine fabric suppliers and end-product manufacturers:

End-product manufacturers

Trend: Downturn/poor economy
Impact: Need to diversify/manufacture different products

Trend: Lack of qualified employees
Impact: Difficult to expand business

Trend: Consumers buying used boats at great prices
Impact: Lower new boat fabric sales

Trend: Increase in boat repair/upgrade business
Impact: Lower new boat sales; chance to diversify into repair business

Trend: Inclement weather (cooler temperatures, floods in Midwest)
Impact: Later delivery times; lower new boat/fabric sales

Trend: Larger variety of boat covers available from catalogs/Web
Impact: Lower sales of custom boat covers

Trend: Increase in material costs (fuel, vinyl, foam, etc.)
Impact: Less business, especially new business as prices to the customer have increased. Profitability is down because sometimes end-product manufacturers have to maintain or lower prices to keep customers from switching to competitors that are discounting their prices.


Trend: Poor economy
Impact: Lower boat/boat fabric sales volumes

Trend: Competitive pressure from low-priced imported fabrics
Impact: Decrease in sales

Trend: Competitors discounting prices
Impact: Lower profit margins

Trend: Soft new-model boat sales for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs)
Impact: Decline in marine fabric sales to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs)

Trend: Green movement
Impact: Enhanced image; opportunity to sell new products to green market

Trend: Consumers using boats for more leisure time activities
Impact: Decrease in large boat sales due to increase in recreational/ski boat sales

Jeff Rasmussen is market research manager at the Industrial Fabrics Association International. He can be reached at +1 651 225 6967,