Fishing & Boating News

When it Comes to Understanding Fishing’s Customers

The Answers are Close to Home
New report examines anglers’ lifestyle choices to help businesses improve marketing

by: Mary Jane Williamson, Dir Communications,

(Jan 11, 2016 - Alexandria, VA) What does an affluent, young soccer mom in suburbia have in common with a farmer living along the Appalachians? An urban hipster with a retiree rooted in America’s heartland? A hectic, young professional with a family living on the outskirts of a metropolitan area with an empty nester who owns a vacation home in a resort area?

If ever we needed proof that fishing attracts people from all walks of life, the fourth report of six produced for the American Sportfishing Association (ASA) by Southwick Associates sheds new light on anglers’ fishing habits and loyalty to the sport.

The report, Angler Segmentation- Looking at Licensed Anglers by Lifestyle, combines residency information from fishing license data with an extensive classification system for different neighborhood types across the country, defined by key demographic and socioeconomic characteristics of residents.

“We’re giving our members a closer look at the lifestyle choices of their customers and potential customers,” said Mike Nussman, president and CEO of the American Sportfishing Association. “This will help manufacturers and retailers identify growth opportunities; better target their advertising, product marketing strategies, in-store promotions; and determine the best locations for new retail operations.”

This kind of lifestyle segmentation data analysis can reveal what kind of fishing certain clusters of people would most likely take up and even what kinds of equipment and brands they’re likely to choose—all of which can be particularly helpful to sportfishing businesses.  

“Where you live is highly correlated with the lifestyle choices you make, including the pastimes you pursue and the products you buy,” explained Rob Southwick, president of Southwick Associates. “When neighborhood types are aligned with fishing license data, we get much more specific information about current anglers’ lifestyles and the potential market for luring more.”

It’s also useful information for fisheries agencies and other organizations focused on boosting fishing participation. By better understanding where current and potential new anglers live, and which messages and imagery will best resonate with targeted anglers, recruitment and retention efforts can be improved.

Examples of Report Highlights
    •    People, generally over age 45, who shop at discount stores, own their own homes and vehicles and are less likely to use computers, are some of the characteristics shared by the four most common lifestyle segments making up the current angler population. They account for 62 percent of all licensed anglers.
    •    More specifically, the most common lifestyle segments among the fishing population are characterized by self-reliance, a love of outdoor recreation and rural living (although they include residents on the borders of suburbs and rural areas). These groups tend to be oriented around family life, though some have grown children and others are young professionals with children at home. They are twice as likely to fish as the rest of the U.S. population.
    •    While the stereotypical angler is an older white male, the angling population is significantly diverse within that broad grouping. For example, it includes educated and active empty nesters who choose to work longer to afford a vacation home; semi-retirees who’ve paid off their mortgages, have no desire to leave their communities and savor a slower pace of life; and well-educated suburbanites who love good food and wine, cultural events, home remodeling and gardening.
    •    Top-10 lifestyle segments within the angling population include busy young professionals with families who value their time together. This includes one of the fastest growing markets in the country, a more ethnically diverse group that is younger with smaller children.
    •    In the Top-20 segments within the angling population are single households or couples without children who are urban dwellers and have more time to focus on their interests, as well as diverse, young, educated, working professionals primarily living on the outskirts of large metropolitan areas.
    •    Some of the lifestyle segments that make good targets for angler retention efforts are expected to experience the slowest population growth in coming years. Meanwhile, some suburban and urban communities with ethnically diverse populations, particularly Hispanics, currently have low rates of fishing participation but are predicted to experience the largest population growth in the future, making them better targets for angler recruitment efforts. This is the focus of the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation’s Hispanic angling and boating education and outreach campaign, Vamos A Pescar.
    •    Lifestyle segments with the lowest rate of “churn,” meaning the fewest number of anglers leaving the sport each year, make up the most rural markets of all. The most common are agricultural and forestry communities along the Appalachians and second-home-owners in resort areas of the Midwest, where fishing and other outdoor activities are an important part of the way of life.
    •    Lifestyle segments with the highest rate of churn (dropping out of fishing) are primarily urban and include young professionals who tend to move a lot, people with lower incomes and ethnic minorities. More than 60 percent of these anglers will not renew their fishing license from one year to the next.
Southwick Associates compiled and studied fishing license data over a 10-year period, from 2004-2013, and a five-year period, from 2009- 2013, from 12 states (CO, FL, GA, ME, MI, MN, MS, MT, NH, NY, UT, and WI) to provide a regionally and nationally representative portrait of anglers for this and other reports in the series.
The American Sportfishing Association (ASA) is the sportfishing industry’s trade association committed to representing the interests of the entire sportfishing community. We give the industry a unified voice, speaking out on behalf of sportfishing and boating industries, state and federal natural resource agencies, conservation organizations, angler advocacy groups and outdoor journalists when emerging laws and policies could significantly affect sportfishing business or sportfishing itself. ASA invests in long-term ventures to ensure the industry will remain strong and prosperous, as well as safeguard and promote the enduring social, economic and conservation values of sportfishing in America. ASA also gives America's 46 million anglers a voice in policy decisions that affect their ability to sustainably fish on our nation's waterways through KeepAmericaFishing™, our angler advocacy campaign. America’s anglers generate more than $48 billion in retail sales with a $115 billion impact on the nation's economy creating employment for more than 800,000 people.