Ed: Last week I published “Why the caravan market smoked the boat Market” and that article has sparked a response from some boat dealers who said I haven’t quite got my facts right. Always up for a conversation, I asked them if they could elaborate. They did, so here is what they had to say on the matter.

Dealer: Hi Phill, Hope your well in these crazy times. I’ve read your theory about why the caravan industry smoked the boating industry and I have to say you’re not quite on the mark. There’s a lot more to it and not just advertising and just being in people’s faces and obviously being on the front line like we are we see it almost on a daily basis, anyway it was interesting reading.

I think the main changes we have noticed is that the boating choice for family’s has gone down the list, especially in Victoria as it’s too seasonal so the wives feel that value for money is not there. Their discretionary funds can be put to better use, boats have gone up a lot and you get a lot less for your dollar.

With caravans the whole family is involved and the wife has another big role in the decision-making process, like a mobile second apartment for them, where the father just doesn’t take off with his mates fishing and leaves the wife stuck with the kids. Also, other things have become more of a priority with those funds like home Reno’s or adding pools and even holidays.

If we look at the way the boat market has changed even in our business, all the family boats have died off and the hard-core boats have really excelled, we have seen a real shift in that market and obviously got a small taste of it when we decided to delve into the caravan industry for a very short time. Caravanning is an all year-round pastime the whole family can do either locally or all-round Australia and not weather restricted.

I know with some of my friends with either a single salary or smaller second salary the wife had allowed a caravan and not a boat or just a small boat just to get out there, the caravan industry Is not just for the grey nomads anymore hence the over 120 manufacturers in Victoria alone and just a small handful of boat manufacturers, anyway that is my 2 cents worth.

And another comment.

Dealer: The mid-range market for us has all but died. We used to sell our fair share of 30-50k boats in small day cruisers and bowriders but that market has dwindled to almost being non-existent.

The caravan industry smokes us because they are at least 10 times our size so they spend a great deal more into campaigning and I would imagine that will increase over the next few weeks as Ozzie’s won’t be able to travel overseas, they’ll be forced to spend their time and money locally (which isn’t a bad thing in some respects). We will pick up a bit of that I would assume, but remember families wanting to get away for a break can only tow one thing at a time and unfortunately for us vans will reign supreme.

Ed: I think these are valid points and I appreciate very much the time and effort spent to make them. However, this doesn’t change history or the facts, this is the result of what I wrote about last week and yes, I wholeheartedly agree that “hard-core boats have really excelled”.

By hard-core boats, these are fishing boats and we have about 4 million people that fish in Australia and a fluctuation from 10 to 18 fishing shows on TV every week showing the fishermen and the boats they are fishing from. So, this is very heavily marketing one sector of the boat market and it’s working very well.

Now let’s look at the other comment

“The mid-range market for us has all but died. We used to sell our fair share of 30-50k boats in small day cruisers and bowriders but that market has dwindled to almost being non-existent”.

Ed: I have a question for you all and I would really like to publish your answers. Q: When was the last time you saw any promotion at all for the 18 to 30-foot leisure power boat part of the market?

I am wondering if that part of the market is dead, buried and beyond resuscitation.

I can be reached by replying to this email and the eye is feeling a little better.