A recent survey of fishing-charter customers is coming in handy as federal waters reopen after the Deepwater Horizon oil well disaster. Gulf Shores/Orange Beach Tourism (GSOBT), the destination marketing organization for Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, is using the information to attempt to attract more fishermen to Alabama.
The Mississippi-Alabama Sea Grant Consortium, the Marine Resources Division of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources and GSOBT worked together on the research study.
It was conducted early this year and found that anglers chartering boats spent an average of more than $2,500 per fishing excursion, including the cost of the trip, accommodations, food, entertainment and travel.
The survey also identified the demographic and psychographic profiles of the current charter fishing customers, quantified the industry’s economic impact and identified consumer attitudes.
“We feel that because we have identified customer characteristics and attitudes, that information will assist us in reaching more customers and expanding the market,” said Colette Boehm, special projects director for GSOBT.
Researchers also conducted a PRIZM Target Analysis using a database of customers who had taken a fishing trip while in the area. PRIZM is a strategy for identifying marketing targets based on two observations:
The best customers for your product are existing customers. The people who have already used your product or a similar one or other people like your existing customers are your most likely potential customers.
Birds of a feather flock together. In choosing a place to live, people tend to seek out neighborhoods compatible to their lifestyles, where they find others with similar consumer behavior patterns.
“While the PRIZM portion of the project helps us determine where potential customers can be found, the survey helps us understand what messages are important to convey to them in our communications,” Boehm said.
Alabama’s charter fishing customers mostly come from the southeastern United States (89 percent). By examining the addresses of fishing customers, the study determined that the candidates for targeted marketing are all upscale groups. The highest-scoring cluster of charter fishing customers came from what the PRIZM analysis identifies as “fast-track families.” Fast-track families include upscale parents aged 35-54 and their kids. Most of the parents work in management, own their homes and are college graduates.
The second main group worthy of targeting is the “country squires.” These 35-to 54-year-olds graduated college and have children. Some attended additional school. Most of them own their homes and have jobs in management.
The third group is described as “country casuals.” They typically are upscale adults, 45 to 64 years old, who do not have kids. They likely are college graduates with management positions.
As far as what is important to fishermen, in the online survey, 99 percent revealed that the knowledge and courtesy of the captain and crew were “very important” or “somewhat important,” making it the highest-ranked factor on the list.
Other factors anglers marked as important included the amount of fish caught (96 percent); cleanliness of the boat (95 percent); price of the trip (91 percent); amount of fish kept (88 percent); and variety of fish caught (81 percent).