Marine Fabrics - Sunbrella

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Direct to Consumer Boating Accesories Best Practices

  • After an exhaustive search, we were unable to find information on best practices relating to how boating accessories companies target their online direct-to-consumer traffic. However, we have provided some useful findings from our research.


• According to Weiche, engaging customers in real-time can lead to a successful digital marketing strategy.
• According to Burnham, the website should contain or incorporate website photos.
• The content on a website needs to be continuous and organized.
• A website growth-driven design (GDD) should adapt to consumers' needs and provide an experience that will leave them wanting for more.
• It is always advisable to get involved in the planning stages and ensure things go as planned.
• Marketing experts who are working on a website should understand the strategic goals of the company's dealership in order to generate the desired amount of traffic to the website.


• A 2017 Demand Gen report suggests that 58% of buyers want related content packaged together, however, only 24% of marketers can provide such content.
• The use of Facebook Lead Ads can drive traffic to your website, and promote brand awareness in your desired audience.
• Since significant shopping is being done using mobile devices, consumers desire a fast and mobile-friendly website.
Google Analytics will also aid in driving traffic to a company's website.
• Investing in high-quality search engine optimization (SEO) and paid ads also help to generate website traffic.
45% of buyers who view display advertisements are more likely to visit the advertised website, while 38% are likely to search for the advertised brand.

Research Strategy

  • In order to find the best practices regarding boat accessories companies' direct-to-consumer traffic, we began by searching within reputable boating websites such as,, and We also visited business and marketing sites like,, and hoping to find information on DTC best practices in the boating accessories industry. Unfortunately, the information found was for the entire boating industry and not specific to our research criteria.
  • We then broadened the scope of our search and visited reputable boating domains such as,,,, and hoping to find a list or any information relating to the DTC best practices in the boating accessories industry. However, this also did not yield any specific information relating to our search.
  • Finally, we searched for exhibitions, trade shows and summits about the boating industry by going through the IBEX Marine Industry Marketing Summit, Marine Dealer Conference & Expo, and the Annapolis Boat Shows. In addition, global trade shows and exhibitions like the Netherlands' Marine Equipment Trade Show Exhibition and Turkey's Eurasia Boat Show were searched. Unfortunately, information regarding the given research criteria was not found.
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Direct to Consumer Boating Accessories Case Studies

After an exhaustive search through industry sources and market/consulting sources, we could not provide any case study of companies that sell marine fabrics in a direct-to-consumer model and their performance in that specific market segment. However, we've pulled available information to provide key findings on the marine fabric market: the marine fabric market has shown a recent positive performance and strong sales due to various factors such as higher consumer confidence indices.


Marine Fabric Market

  • Several developments in 2018 helped to support growth in the marine fabric market such as a sunny and warm summer which helped to boost boat sales, a stronger job market — an average unemployment rate of 3.9% in 2018 compared to 4.4% in 2017, and a consumer confidence index averaging 130.2 in 2018. A consumer confidence index above 90 correlates to increased consumer spending in the marine fabric industry. Consumer spending increased by 2.7% and is expected to be 3.0% in 2019. Also, higher oil and gas prices in 2018 didn’t deter consumer spending on boating.

Direct-to-consumer brands

  • "The growth of direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands has been enabled through smart digital marketing, apps, ‘buy’ buttons and subscription services as well as the exponential growth of outsourced manufacturing with shorter productions runs."
  • Based on a CB Insights analysis, DTC brands that are once-tiny startups have made it big. "They identified four broad areas where these companies set themselves apart — in design, how they launch, the customer experience they build, and how they market themselves. "
  • Owning the relationship with the consumer means DTC brands hold a large amount of detailed demographic and behavioral data about their customers.
  • The four common ways that brands fail at direct-to-consumer selling are the inability to portray value proposition to customers, misguided price points, poorly managed partnerships, and misinterpreting customer feedback.
  • Tips to get started in a direct-to-consumer model include identifying an everyday item and making it affordable, focusing the product and marketing efforts on the customers' pain point(s), developing a subscription-based model, simplifying choice, and taking a content-first approach, among others.

Research Strategy

To provide 1-2 case studies of companies selling marine fabrics (DTC) and how have they performed in that area of the market, we searched for any pre-compiled case studies in this regard from consulting firms and industry sources for marine fabrics but we were not able to find any helpful or related data. Next, we performed an exhaustive search looking for any list of direct-to-consumer US-based companies that are selling marine fabrics. However, only two companies were considered as DTC, they are Harbor Marine Canvas and Ameritex Fabric Systems. Unfortunately, these companies provide limited information that can be used to address this requested. Most of the available information for these companies were company details, product information, and other non-related data. We also determined that most of the companies that sell marine fabrics were B2B type companies, wholesalers, and resellers of marine fabrics such as Sunbrella, Herculite, ThomasNet, Mauritzon Inc., Marlen Textiles, Trivantage, Sailrite, and many others.

Secondly, we switched gears and broadened the research by changing the region of focus to a global scope. However, this strategy only yielded one DTC company that sells marine fabrics which also did not provide any data on how they performed in that area of the market. This strategy yielded mainly B2B companies, wholesalers and resellers which limits us to provide any data on the requested information or any helpful findings/additional information.

Lastly, since there are a limited number of DTC companies that sells marine fabric, we tried to expand our research to focus on fabric manufacturers/companies that employ a direct-to-consumer model in selling their fabrics. However, this strategy also did not provide us with any relevant information. This strategy only leads us to assume that fabric companies/manufacturers/distributors are mostly distributing their products in a business-to-business model and/or distributing products via their wholesale chain and retail resellers.

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Marine Enthusiast Demographic Analysis

The demographics of marine enthusiasts 16.3% for people aged 18-29 years old. Among these, 70% are male whose household income is $100,000, 47% have bachelors/graduate/professional degrees, and mostly live in the Eastern US.

Marine Enthusiast Demographic Analysis

1) age

  • 16.3% are 18-29 years old.
  • 18.14% are aged 30-49 years old.
  • 9.15% are aged 50-64 years old.

2) gender

  • 70% of active and enthusiastic yachtsmen are male.
  • 30% of active and enthusiastic yachtsmen are female.

3) income level

  • 72% of boaters have household incomes under $100,000.

4) education level

  • 13% have no high school diploma.
  • 17% are high school graduate.
  • 24% have some college certification.
  • 47% have bachelors/graduate/professional degrees.

5) where they live (base on sales of boats)

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Customer Journey

In purchasing a boat, customers/boat buyers consider the boat ownership cost, style, brand, and dealer. They also seek to learn more about the storage, maintenance, insurance, and if they need a new car in towing the boat. Traditionally, boat owners go to a marine fabricator or "canvas shop" to pick the perfect fabric for their project while some take their time to research for the marine fabric manufacturer as they are very concerned with the quality and want to be conscious of where and how it is manufactured.



  • Boat buyers consider learning more about the storage, maintenance, insurance, and if they need a new car in towing the boat.
  • Boat buyers consider the boat ownership cost. They also evaluate style, brand, and dealer.
  • Generally, boat buyers are focused on the price to see what their investments will look like.
  • The most important impact on boat buyers is "the attitude and confidence of the salesperson that the value they deliver is higher than the price charged that has the most impact on the how the buyer perceives they are receiving the best deal." Hence, if the salesperson gives an impression that prices are high, so will the buyer think. Conversely, if the salesperson shows confidence in that the value is better the price, the buyer will equally believe so.
  • Boat buyers also consider the warranty of the boat, what kind of maintenance the boat needs, the type of fabric on the boat. They also want to know what are the available financing options and a sea trial to test everything and to see the boat's performance.


  • Traditionally, boat owners go to a marine fabricator or "canvas shop" to pick the perfect fabric for their project and work with experts to guarantee that it is properly modified to their needs.
  • Some boat owners think that the best option is buying straight from the manufacturers to ensure the quality and to get the lowest price of the fabric but manufacturers only sell in bulk quantities to other businesses. Textile manufacturers that produce marine fabrics end up with a distributor, marine fabricator, or a fabric retailer.
  • Majority of boat owners choose to work with professional marine fabricators to provide assurance with the quality and longevity while also saving their time and energy in the fabrication processes.


  • Boat owners take time to research for the marine fabric manufacturer as they are very concerned with the quality of the vinyl on their boats and they also want to be conscious of where and how it is manufactured.
  • In finding which manufacturer that boat owners will consider, they also ask some retailers on what they will recommend for them as some retailers have more than one manufacturer. Retailers will provide information on each manufacturer so that boat owners can compare and contrast them.

From Part 01
  • "Markarova suggests weaving answers to your customers questions into your website product offerings to improve content marketing."
  • "Growth-driven design (GDD) for websites adapts to customers’ needs and serves them with a website experience that will leave them wanting for more, Ryan said."