IFAI’s market research shows that economic growth in 2017 increased in key advanced economies such as the United States, Canada, Japan and Europe. Worldwide growth in GDP came in at 3.6 percent in 2017—well ahead of the 3.2 percent growth experienced in 2016; it is expected to recover to 3.7 percent in 2018. Several developments in 2017 helped to support growth in the marine fabric market:
- A sunny and warm summer, which helped to bolster boat sales
- A stronger job market—unemployment rate at 4.4 percent in 2017 vs. 4.9 percent in 2016
- A consumer confidence index averaging 120 in 2017; an index above 90 correlates to increased consumer spending Consumer spending of 2.7 percent; consumer spending is expected to be 2.5 percent in 2018
The Conference Board’s consumer confidence index, a key barometer for growth in the marine fabric market, averaged 120.4 in 2017, which was 20.5 points higher than the 99.9 figure in 2016. This growth is expected to continue into 2018 despite higher oil and gas prices.
Future challenges for the U.S. marine industry include attracting younger, more diverse audiences to boating. Thirty-two percent of first-time boaters in the U.S. are Hispanics—they represent a strong emerging market in the future.
An integral way to expand the U.S. marine market is for marine market leaders and advocates to devise and implement ways to increase boat ownership among people who fish and who participate in water sports. Another catalyst for expanding boat ownership in the marine market is through innovation. Recent innovations in new boats include a Joystick for Inboard propulsion and leading-edge boat designs for the fishing activist that incorporate customizable electronics, large livewells and in-floor fishboxes. The ongoing development of innovative boat designs is essential to attracting new boat owners as well as retaining current boat owners in the marine market over the long term.
Editor’s note: Condensed summaries of the 11 market areas covered by IFAI’s State of the Industry report are available at www.SpecialtyFabricsReview.com. To purchase the full report, visit www.ifai.com/marketresearch.