The latest findings by Roy Morgan Research reveal that boat ownership in Australia has risen by nearly half a million people since 2012.
In 2012, almost 2.1 million Australians over the age of 14, or 11.1 per cent of the population, reported living in a household with some kind of boat.
In 2016 that figure was is close to 2.6 million, which is 13.0 per cent of the population.
Not surprisingly, the growth has been driven by dinghies, canoes and row boats with 7.6 per cent of Australians living in a household that owns one of those vessels. This figure is up from 1.1 million or 5.9 per cent in 2012.
Almost 1.3 million people (6.4%) live in a household with a motor/speed boat (up from 1.1 million/5.9%) in 2012, and 166,000 people (0.8%) have a yacht or other sailboat in their household—down from 176,000.
Of course, there is substantial crossover. Some 270,000 Aussies live in households where there is both a motor/speed boat and a dinghy/canoe/row boat while 67,000 yacht/sail-boat owners also have a dinghy/canoe/row boat in their household.
While, for many, there is a belief that boat owners are among the wealthier members of the population, cruising tropical climes on super yachts a la James Packer but Roy Morgan data shows that this is not the case.
In fact, middle-class Australians, which according to Roy Morgan accounts for about 15.5 per cent of the population are more likely to live in a household with a boat than those categorised as wealthy (13.5 per cent of the population).
Not only do the middle-class account for a greater proportion (23.7%) of Australia’s total dinghy/canoe/row-boat ownership than the wealthy (22.6%), but this pattern is also evident among motor/speed-boat owners (24.3% versus 17.9%) and yacht/sail-boat owners (31.3% v 26.1%).
Roy Morgan Research Industry Communications Director, Norman Morris, said Australia’s abundant coastline and waterways meant that aquatic activities were always going to be popular, and boating was no exception.
“While it may seem initially surprising that boat ownership is more widespread in middle-class than wealthy households, it makes sense when we consider that dinghies, row boats and canoes comprise the most popular category of boat and all are relatively affordable,” Mr Morris said.
He said given that the WA coast was the longest of all the states it should not be a surprise that it also had the biggest per cent of boat ownership with 18.9% of WA residents living in a household with at least one boat.
“Queensland residents are also well above average for boat ownership (15.6%), followed by Tasmanians (14.8%),” he said.
Growing boat ownership around the country also represents a myriad of opportunities for retailers, and not just those who sell boats.
Research also shows that in any given three-month period, Australian boat owners are nearly three times more likely to go fishing or partake in water-skiing or other water sports than the average Australian. They are also more likely to partake in other aquatic pursuits such as scuba diving, snorkelling and surfing.
Mr Morris said the research showed that retailers of equipment or sportswear associated with any of these activities would benefit from tailoring their marketing campaigns to appeal to this audience.