Discussion of market for small sailboats referencing Talman Menemsha 24 and Katama 25

Discussion in 'Sailboats' started by Stephen Ditmore, Nov 18, 2012.

  1. Stephen Ditmore
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    Stephen Ditmore Senior Member

    No need to sweat it, just curious because I don't know how much trade China does with South Korea. It's something to keep an eye on. While nobody should write the US off as a market the growth may be in your back yard, Tunnels. Perhaps there in China, too. Captains of industry may be too busy minding their businesses to think about boats, but as the Japanese found, children who grow up with money find the time to spend it.
     
  2. salglesser
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    salglesser Junior Member

    Hi Stephen,

    I'd be happy to share whatever info I have. I see the trailer sailor market as a growing one with greater potential to bring in new sailors as well as those downsizing. You can also put your boat on a trailer and take it far from the likes of "Sandy".

    My fist love was multihulls, but it's harder to do in a small trailerable cruiser. Chris Oslind has a trailerable catamaran cruiser that caught my eye. Very nice design and one that I think might find favor in the future small boat market.

    There was an article in a recent Small Craft Advisor on a small catamaran that an individual imported from Oz, but is no longer being made. Those molds might be available?

    But I must say I agree with an earlier post that suggested targeting a market and do research on that market rather than do research to seek a market.

    sal
     
  3. PAR
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    I'd recommend those really interested start with the basics, which can be found at Polson Enterprises Research Services (>http://www.rbbi.com/desks/mkt/stats/stats.htm#number<( or directly to the bulk of the information at rbbi.com.
     
  4. Stephen Ditmore
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    Stephen Ditmore Senior Member

    Thank you again, PAR. I think this is a useful page of links, but it has limitations. It's mostly powerboat oriented, and a lot of it is out of date.
    Here's what I can add (or have extracted):

    Reading and conversations suggest the recession has hit boats hard, but initial signs are that sales of small non-motorized boats are improving while other sectors remain sluggish. Market data and analysis is published in Soundings Trade Only (available online). Other sources of market information are:
    [Re the brokerage sites, member brokers have access to data concerning recent sale prices, etc.]

    I mostly see myself producing original designs conically developed for assembly from sheet material with no need of molds; so I'm not generally looking to pick up existing molds. Having said that, there are some available at low cost. Usually that's because the previous builder has not succeeded in the marketplace, but I'm sending out feelers, including starting this thread, to see if there might be exceptions. I wondered if the Katama might be an exception because one might see it not as a competitor of Cape Dory, but as a little (maxi-trailerable) sister to the Morris M-class with a little Friendship Sloop thrown in. So far folk don't seem to be responding to it that way, so now I'm in the needing to be persuaded myself camp.

    Reiterating what I said in post #2, I'm still interested in what people make of Ninja Spider. Does a boat like that have market potential? Might resorts be persuaded to buy Ninjas instead of Hobies? Are larger competitors like http://www.motivetrimarans.com/ a problem? How about all the other catamarans and trimarans out there - does Ninja have a unique appeal?
     
  5. salglesser
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    salglesser Junior Member

    Great link PAR. Thanx much.

    sal
     
  6. salglesser
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    salglesser Junior Member

    Hey Stephen,

    Dick Newick has a new 16' trimaran design with molds. I think he'd be interested in a builder. Designed to complete against the current production daysailing trimarans. We thought about it, but we're already comitted to a new 15' pocket cruiser.

    sal
     
  7. Stephen Ditmore
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    Stephen Ditmore Senior Member

    Cool, just wrote him an email. When I was a Landing School yacht design student he took us sailing on Pats, and one of my friends in the class did his internship with Newick. I look forward to seeing what he's up to.
     
  8. PAR
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    PAR Yacht Designer/Builder

    Regarding the SGM design Stephen, I think there's a market, though small on the whole of the small sailboat niche. Performance does help the market a good bit, though I'm not so sure about the boat in a box concept. IMO a very small portion of the market will find this the deal closer, if attractive at all. Also most tend to stay "centered" in regard to design aspects, which typically means conventional, easily understood concepts and equipment. Unless an A/C boat has one, you can expect the clever, but unconventional to be a determent to total sales.

    This said, with your model, the focus is narrowed anyway, so having some interesting and unique concepts is probably a driving force, rather than a deterrent. This is when things get hard and lots of number crunching and research pays off. Yes, the data base I linked above is mostly about powerboats, but the pleasure boat market is mostly about powerboats. As I suggested, a stating point for some basic research. Lots of good stuff there and leads to other sources, which are probably more valuable then the site itself.

    I don't see much movement in the trailersailor market yet, nor in the foreseeable future (near term), but eventually, things will pick up. I expect we'll all be looking forward to 2014 at the end of 2013's slow rise in everything. Fuel costs aren't going to go down, so more emphases on efficiency may help "fuel" the market changes, though don't hold your breath, as it should always be remembered what boating actual is. It is a luxury and the benefactor of digressional funds expenditures. To many of us, this seems over the top, as we've made do on a shoe string, with home made contraptions and contrivances, of every shape and size. Unfortunately, most folks aren't like us and have to pay JimBob and little Ralph his half brother/step father, to work on it for them, so it's not as desirable or affordable, as it once was.

    FWIW
     
  9. CutOnce

    CutOnce Previous Member

    I just reviewed this thread and must say that I find much of the advice within quite sound.

    Defining a foundation product for a new company is an incredibly tough task. Although cost effective, starting from an existing set of molds may not be the easiest path to reaching profitable operation.

    The most important element for success is defining a product which adequate numbers of people want to buy that has enough profit to bootstrap the organisation's operations. It is incredibly easy to make mistakes in defining products.

    In my business career I've found out that people generally have a lot of trouble defining what they should really be building. Getting a statement of requirements that is translatable into a sensible and profitable product is almost impossible. I generally find committees, focus groups and consensus-based definitions hard to justify. My observations and experiences are in direct opposition to the "Ready, Aim, Fire" methods taught in Marketing 101.

    From my experience, I've found that people are far better at clearly stating what they DON'T LIKE about products. People can quickly tell you why they won't buy a product, why it is too expensive and what features they do not like.

    This led me many years ago to my personal philosophy of extracting people's real requirements from negative feedback, rather than from asking for wish lists. I call this "Ready, Fire, Aim" product management.

    It is cheaper and faster (in my world) to rapid prototype a product concept and ask for reasons why it won't work. Confused and vague feedback from clients become crystal clear and immediate - they can tell you instantly what needs to be done to make the prototype buy-able and desirable.

    How do you arrive at even a prototype from which to solicit criticism? Sometimes I go find people who have products "close" to what I'm thinking about and solicit their private opinions about what's wrong. Sometimes I whack together a rendering and get opinions. As things progress more I may build a prototype and put it out there. During this process it is absolutely critical to keep your own opinions and ego off the table. Building a product that "you" want to buy isn't right - especially if "only" you want it. Feedback is more honest if done one-on-one - because groups skew opinions around the strongest opinions present. Herds of human beings have only a herd opinion which is based on the lead bull - and asking each person individually without asking them to publicly speak in front of the herd is important. I've seen lots of marketer's fail to find a clear target because they start selling their own desires instead of listening to people's feedback.

    Generally, I start from the basics:

    • Who has enough money to buy my product?
    • Are there enough of them to make producing the product worthwhile?
    • Will the product produce more than just an incremental improvement from the state of the art? Me-too products fail.
    • Is the product sufficiently unique, functionally superior and defensible to not attract better-resourced competitors and knock offs?
    • Do I have deep enough resources to trudge through the endless, expensive Valley of Death until the product reaches critical market mass? This means two to three years in the small boat market. Look at the Weta.

    I hope these thoughts help somewhat. They've helped me transition from a bright eyed, young enthusiastic optimist into a treacherous, cold and much more successful product developer and entrepreneur.

    --
    CutOnce
     
  10. salglesser
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    salglesser Junior Member

    Excellent advice!

    sal
     
  11. bruceb
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    bruceb Senior Member

    More advice?

    Don't! The builders that have had some success in small sailboats in the US are willing to put a boat behind their truck and stay on the road 7 months a year doing boat shows and demos. It "can" be done, but it takes a special person to want to do it, and you still have about a 10% or less chance of just breaking even. The most successful operations have hired a contract builder for the product (boats) and concentrated their personal efforts on marketing and sales. There are still several experienced small boat builders around, I would want their input on the project before I bought the first gallon of resin.
    From a strictly "dealer" type of outlook, I would probably try to keep the deck design and put it on a more "modern" lighter and less expensive hull. Like it or not, a few "character" boats sell, but cheap sells better:rolleyes:
    Of course, I like multihulls:cool: B
     
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  12. salglesser
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    salglesser Junior Member

    Stephen,

    Last time I spoke with Dick Newick (about 2 months ago) he had mentioned that he was planning to relocate to New Zealand. He said by the end of the year. I'll try reaching him.

    sal
     
  13. tunnels

    tunnels Previous Member

    What he going to New Zealand for ???
     
  14. Stephen Ditmore
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    Stephen Ditmore Senior Member

    Should he choose China instead?
     

  15. salglesser
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    salglesser Junior Member

    He was working on a 50' trimaran to be used as a freighter between the islands in Tonga.

    sal
     
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