TikTok and Vice TV attracting new boaters, says NMMA

Man at helm of personal watercraft with fishing rods

National Marine Manufacturers Association’s VP of marketing, Kevin Williams, discusses how new strategic partnerships with Vice TV, TikTok and other media platforms are helping to engage the next generation of boaters

To be successful in today’s competitive marketplace, businesses must understand how to market to each generation and what motivates them. For recreational boating, demographic trends show that the next generation of boating prospects will most likely be more diverse and less likely to come from boat-owning families than previous generations. 

Reaching the next generation of leisure boaters where they live, work and play digitally and experientially, is fundamental to growing the boating market. That is why Discover Boating [owned by USA organisation the National Marine Manufacturers Association] embarked on a 2022 marketing strategy that includes strategic media partnerships, as they help further amplify the joys of boating among our target audiences. 

Discover Boating commissioned a research study to find groups to target that would be open to boating. The segmentation study defined potential target groups using two main factors: participation in sports and outdoor activities, and income. Three key groups emerged: traditional boaters, growth segment and emerging segment. 


Traditional boaters most closely resemble the current boat owner, while the growth and emerging segments provide opportunities to expand the market for recreational boating – representing 91 million people and more than 1.5 x the traditional boater segment size.

What is clear is that the future of boating will not look like the past. It is thus imperative for the boating industry to appeal to a younger, more diverse demographic and demonstrate how boating can include them. 


With a strong interest in sports being a common thread across our target audiences, one of our media partners was top sports network, ESPN. ESPN featured Discover Boating across its digital platform throughout the summer and showcased recreational boating on its popular weekly television morning show, First Take, which averages 445,000 viewers daily, with 40 per cent in the 18-24 age group. The episode was filmed live with Discover Boating from a boat and Discover Boating’s Anthem video also ran during the episode making the exposure even more impactful. 

Discover Boating’s Hooked video – celebrating the joy and family traditions of fishing – also ran on ESPN streaming services, and Discover Boating digital ads were placed on ESPN.com, which boasts nearly 11 million unique visitors per month.

Vice TV and marine

Another strategic partnership is with Vice TV, which aims to showcase the benefits of boating among the industry’s growth and emerging target audiences. As a leading network among 18-34-year-olds, Vice TV reaches 65 million homes, helping Discover Boating invite the next generation to experience life on the water. Two of Discover Boating’s videos – Anthem and Hooked – ran on Vice as well as a custom short documentary, which centred around fishing aboard a personal watercraft.

Partnering with Vice helps build a connection between Discover Boating and what ‘see you out here’ (our campaign tagline) can mean to the next generation of boaters through a familiar, authentic and human-centric voice across platforms and formats.

Read more industry insights in Marine Industry News print edition Issue 5.

Ebony Media

Ebony Media is one of the most highly trafficked platforms and respected media within the African American community. 

Discover Boating’s partnership with Ebony came to fruition through two key activations over the summer. Ebony invited Discover Boating to be part of its well-known Coolest Black Family video and content series, which covers African American families participating in different activities from travel to sports to technology and more. As one of platform’s most popular series, the Discover Boating videos have garnered millions of views and can be viewed on ebony.com. 

Discover Boating also joined Ebony Media as a co-host for a waterside event, where influential and affluent guests from across the community experienced the fun of life on the water. From cruising to networking and book signing events, guests spent quality time onboard boats enjoying the lifestyle and learning about Discover Boating.


Discover Boating launched two pilot TikTok campaigns – #BoatAppetit and #WaterWear – over the summer of 2022 to further engage the next generation of boaters and connect with the brand’s target audience on a platform where they are already consuming video content.

Leveraging two of TikTok’s most popular categories (food and fashion) Discover Boating selected content creators to share their favourite recipes to bring onboard and showcase their best boating attire. Rather than a ‘traditional’ media buy, this strategic effort allowed Discover Boating to break through to consumers across a variety of demographics and interests and helped tell the industry’s story through relevant influencers. 

The influencers encouraged their engaged followers to experience life on the water and learn how to get started at DiscoverBoating.com. In less than one week of the launch, the campaign generated more than 3.5 million video views.

Within two months, the campaign earned 30 million video views. The average engagement rate was 13 per cent and the highest was 24 per cent. 

Discover Boating established these and other strategic media partnerships in order to amplify the industry’s voice and maintain momentum and participation coming out of the pandemic. Building engagement with new markets will provide important growth for the future. These media partnerships are helping Discover Boating connect with the key growth and emerging target segments and provided an opportunity to elevate and extend our reach and connect with more potential boat buyers. 

Kevin Williams is vice president of marketing for NMMA.

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