A big demographic wave “floats our boats” – but beware!

Andy Adams

Feb 14, 2022

At this time of year, we announce the winners of the Boating Industry Canada Employer of Choice Awards and I was pleased to make the first announcement at the NMMA Canada Virtual State of the Industry session last week. You will be seeing five different Boating Industry Canada Employer of Choice Award stories, starting this week with Princecraft winning Award status for the 5th consecutive year. You should check out their Award acceptance video – it’s full of other smart human resources ideas.

Attendance numbers for the NMMA Canada virtual event were quite impressive and I believe it was an excellent program. I get to do the opening introductions and give a short presentation. This year I showed a new version of the Canada’s national population trends graph.

I said that we were enjoying a big demographic wave that “floats our boats” – but beware!

We have attached the chart here for everyone’s reference. This is Canada’s population, shown as bars by 5-year age groups, to help us understand the huge, but slow-moving changes in our population. It’s a good news / bad news story.

The good news is that we can see the big wave of baby boomers heading into their 60’s and 70’s. Older people typically are those who can more easily afford cottages and boats, and I think you would agree, your big-spending customers are age 55 or older.

Remember that every year, we all get one year older. The chart helps us picture the wave of our customers rolling forward, year by year with more and more of this older demographic buying cottages and boats.

As a segment of Canada’s population, the number of people age 60 to 64 will increase by + 9.2% in the next five years. Those 65 to 69 will increase + 11.9 percent and those 70 to 74, + 20.9%.

Those ages are often when people see their children marry, start to have grandchildren, and as their careers peak, head toward retirement. These factors were already helping boating.

COVID-19 was like pouring gasoline on the fire. Prices for vacation homes rose very fast according to the Canadian real estate association. Real estate is giving our customers a big “wealth-effect” boost.

Things look great for boating for many years coming, but at the young end of the scale we’re in trouble.

Canadians age 15 to 19 will be – 1.6% fewer. Those age 20 to 24 are only only increasing at + 2.1% and those 25 to 29 increasing at + 5% – all groups are far behind the increases in older people.

We already needed to attract more skilled labour. Clearly the situation will become worse in the coming years. I’m worried that we are quickly falling behind in our ability to meet customer demand and customer expectations.

We believe that the Employer of Choice program can be a supporting part of the future recruitment and retention of more people into boating. I hope to start a National conversation on this in Boating Industry Canada News Week Digest in the coming months as your Career Opportunity ads start coming in and the business gears up for what will probably be a booming spring 2022 boating season.

Andy Adams – Editor

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