Friday, January 14, 2011

Boating plan goes after niche market

Tim Norwood (provided photo)
Tim Norwood is going after a very specific market with his proposed boat factory, as featured in today's Bradenton Herald Business section.

The concept he is working on for Row Norwood is whitehall row boats and crew boats. According to those in the marine industry, these types of recreational boats are ideal in a down economy.

The boats require less maintenance, no fuel, and are what first-time boaters usually start with, says Gordon Connell, director of association services at the Marine Industries Association of South Florida.

"The number of people doing real basic, entry-level rowing and paddle boating has become quite popular," Connell says. "There will continue to be a slice or segment in the industry for these type of boats."

But with any type of business, niche marketing can come with some downfalls.

"You have a greater dependency on one particular market and therefore there's more risk," says Joe Pfeiffer, volunteer business counselor for Manasota SCORE, a resource partner of the U.S. Small Business Administration. "Everything is so defined."

On the other hand, Pfeiffer says market segmentation allows entrepreneurs to build closer relationships with their client base and better reach them through advertising. And Pfeiffer, who is also a business consultant in the Bradenton-Sarasota area, sees more established businesses going this route because -- you guessed it -- of the economy.

"Businesses have done everything they can to cut costs, so now they're really focused on trying to expand sales," Pfeiffer said. "They're finding a better niche market may be an opportunity for that."

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