Like most consumer-driven industries looking to the future, the marine industry is keen to tap into a new generation of potential customers. Younger customers are particularly important and could become a new wave of younger boaters and boat buyers.
That wave might be more of a tsunami because something interesting happened in 2014.
That was the first year that the number of millennials surpassed the number of baby boomers, according to the Census Bureau(1). With a quarter of the population now represented by millennials, their behavior will have an increasing influence on politics, culture, and the economy.
Yet boating seems to have…missed the boat. Consider that boat ownership among 20-39 year olds has dropped by approximately 41% between 2005 and 2015(2). Cost may be one hurdle, but another may be less financial and more…digital.(3)
Clearly, digital connectivity is a “thing”. And it’s a thing that doesn’t happen easily or affordably for younger boaters when they’re offshore.
Attracting Younger Boaters with Broadband
So how does the marine industry make boating attractive to a large portion of the population that is increasingly uninterested? One way is to provide the same digital experience offshore that so many currently enjoy, and expect, onshore. Just as onshore mobile Internet is expected to be easily accessible, consistently available, and affordable, boaters of all ages expect the same when they head for adventure offshore. However, modern broadband satellite communication solutions are often overkill and sometimes beyond the budget of entry boat owners, which means that with the tech that has been available, you’re sunk if you want to get in on boating and broadband easily.
To address this “digital dearth”, KVH has come up with an offshore Internet and phone service that rivals that of the onshore experience and it may be just what’s needed to lure more millennials to boating. KVH recently introduced the KVH TracPhone LTE-1, which offers LTE Advanced (LTE-A) service faster than 4G LTE for HD streaming and Internet, and delivers it more than 20 miles offshore, all for a reasonable price. So, instead of sitting on the couch watching Game of Thrones or playing video games, millennials can now do it on their boat…as soon as they buy one. And with a reasonably priced option for offshore connectivity, they might start to do just that.
Like that old adage says (kind of), a rising tide of millennials lifts all boat builders.