The Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) recently released the “2021 Special Report: New Outdoor Participant (COVID and Beyond)” providing insights on the millions of Americans who started participating in outdoor activities during the COVID-19 pandemic. While the survey included respondents from a wide range of activities, its takeaways are also relevant for the fishing and boating industry.
According to OIA and its research partner NAXION, newcomers are younger and more ethnically diverse than the existing outdoor community. Additionally, new participants tend to live in urban areas, be in a lower income bracket, and are more likely to female.
This data is aligned with what RBFF found in its report about new fishing and boating participants released in November 2020. For more information about the changing face of fishing and boating, watch RBFF’s Rachel Piacenza and Ipsos’ Stephanie Don’s presentation “Casting A Wide Net: Identifying New Anglers & Boaters and Determining Tactics for Retention.”
Barriers and Opportunities
According to the report, new outdoor participants are spending more time watching tv and online but are experiencing higher levels of screen fatigue. Of new participants surveyed, 20% learned about outdoor activities through social media, 18% through online searches, and 7% from a retailer or brand’s website. With this data in mind, the fishing and boating industry should seize the opportunity to further commit to digital marketing and providing easy-to-access information online.
To help the industry’s digital marketing efforts, RBFF has free tools available for use. The Get on Board toolkit provides customizable digital ad banners and social media graphics, while the Fishing License & Boat Registration Website Plugin can be easily embedded on a brand’s website to enable users to quickly access license information for their states. Additionally, the Embeddable Places to Boat & Fish Map is a digital tool that tackles other barriers mentioned in the study: travel and lack of information about where to go.
Survey respondents reported feelings of loss, fear, and loneliness during the pandemic with 50% listing managing stress as a motivation for participating in outdoor activities. Other top motivation included staying healthy, spending time with family, and connecting with nature. To continue to grow participation and retain newcomers, the industry can and should position fishing as a safe, cost-effective way to experience mental wellness and social connection. To learn more about the mental wellness benefits of fishing and boating and how to communicate them, watch Dr. Sue Varma speak with RBFF’s Bruna Carincotte.
For more specific information and trends within fishing, be on the lookout for RBFF and the Outdoor Foundation’s “Special Report on Fishing” available this summer. Previous reports can be found online.