Boating Industry Discovers Women


Chris Dicke, left, and Amanda Blotsky enjoyed a recent “ladies-only” afternoon on Prior Lake. The friends regularly rent boats through Your Boat Club.

Photo: Renee Jones Schneider, Star Tribune

Today’s Star Tribune cover page article, “Women discover that rentals float their boat,” is a bit unappropriately titled. Why? Because the article is much more about how the boating industry is discovering that women, who make 85% of all household purchasing decisions (including big-ticket items), are a profitable target market.

But identifying a new audience is just part of the puzzle for the industry. The challenge for marinas who are looking for women to rent their boats for a summer as part of a “boating club,” is to overcome the potential barrier that women often have no experience driving a boat, since many women traditionally defer driving to their spouse. So, they took the tact of going all-in: offering ladies-only boating instruction classes and catering to women in their clubs.

Smartly, focusing on rentals to get women on the water is a tactic that’s translating to greater industry sales. Once women get a taste of how fun it is to boat, they become interested in investing in their own watercraft. And boat-related sales jumped in Minnesota, where boat clubs are marketing to women: up 42% from 2010.

“The vast majority of household spending trickles through the hands of women, even in categories that seem unlikely,” the article quotes from marketing firm owner Beth Perro-Jarvis. Indeed, besides boats these categories include tires, vehicles, stocks and bonds and home renovations.

This is a great example of an industry paying attention to the statistics and changing their marketing tactics to reach an audience that has and spends money. It’ll be interesting to see when and if other industries that traditionally market to men will follow suit.


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