LATEST INDUSTRY FOCUS GROUP UPDATE
In January 2010, the new leadership team of Sail America announced a top initiative: to host focus groups with its membership in order to listen and identify the top priorities and needs from each industry segment.
To date, focus groups have been held with boat builders, gear and equipment companies, sailing schools, retailers and new boat dealers, each hosted and moderated by two members of the Sail America board of directors. Focus groups are still to be held with charter companies, yacht brokers, media and marine services companies.
In the future, a full report of the results from the industry focus groups will be formally presented to the industry for review. However, some of the common findings to date among participating focus groups include the desire to promote sailing as a lifestyle, with the goal to better position sailing from a PR perspective within the mainstream media in order to raise positive awareness and visibility. Additionally, the desire to see sailing become more entrenched in social media efforts was a priority, as was the need to add more sizzle and excitement to boat shows, complete with strong programming.
Other areas of interest included the pressing need for a solution to the challenges associated with wholesale and retail financing, and the need for a stronger web program that promotes the sailing lifestyle.
“We plan to conclude our focus group activities by the end of the year, and very much appreciate the effort by all those who have participated,” said Sail America President Sally Helme. “We want to encourage the upcoming groups to actively engage and participate – your opinion is important and counts. The cumulative results from our various focus group discussions will help us better serve the sailing industry and navigate our goals and objectives moving forward.”