Angling-Based Marketing

Ben Leeson
Cambrian College Student

When you market angling for your business, you should remember you are marketing memories, not just fishing, according to Burton McClelland, manager of the Ministry of Natural Resources’ Fish and Wildlife Marketing and Client Services Section.

“It’s about marketing the angling experience, not just the angling itself,” McClelland said during a workshop at the Northern Ontario Tourist Outfitters annual conference. McClelland provided some statistics on the changing population in Ontario, and their needs and wants related to resource-based tourism. “It’s important first to understand what marketing is,” he said. “I think there’s a misconception out there that marketing equals promotion, and I want to move away from that.

“The key thing to remember when we talk about marketing is that it’s a customer-oriented process. What you’re really trying to find out is what your customers want, and how you can provide that for them.” McClelland said marketing should not be considered a separate part of the business, but rather integral.

“You have to think about what your product is,” he said. “I think your product is not fishing or hunting. I think your product is memories. Your product is good times.” McClelland said the research his office has done about why people go fishing might make people think about their products a little differently. “It’s not necessarily about the fish,” he said.

He added some outfitters tend to think about fishing from their own perspective, which may not necessarily be their customers’ perspective. “You have to keep trying to get into their minds,” he said. The population in Ontario, he added, is becoming more and more urbanized, and while Canada is behind the United States in this trend, it is definitely headed in the same direction.

He said by 2025 about 50 per cent of Ontario’s population will live in the Greater Toronto Area, making it an increasingly important market for outfitters. The GTA is expected to grow from 5.1 million people now to about 7.5 million by 2025. “That has some real significance when we talk about who goes angling and who doesn’t go angling,” McClelland said, adding more people and their families will be looking for ways to escape the hectic city life and relax in nature – even using it as a type of therapy.

“According to our research, the focus is less on catching big fish – or any fish at all – than it is on relaxing, enjoying nature, and spending time with family and friends,” McClelland said. “For some folks, leisure time is increasing, and many are retiring younger,” he said. “The number of those over 60 still working has gone from 70 per cent in 1960, to 30 per cent in 2000. That is significant for us because these folks now have some more time to take leisure activities.” On the other hand, McClelland said, the work week is longer – about 20 per cent longer than it was in 1950. Those who are still in the work force have less free time and tend to take their holidays for shorter lengths of time, meaning they might not be able to take an entire week to go on a fishing trip. “It might not be the best strategy to sell week-long fishing vacations anymore,” McClelland said.

He said it will be wise for businesses to take those trends into account as they are putting together packages to encourage people to get away from urban centres like Toronto. “Not only that, but there is going to be increasing ethnic diversity in there,” he said, since most of the population growth there is fuelled by immigration, primarily from Asia and the Middle East. Most of these new Ontarians are not participating in angling, either because they are unfamiliar with the laws and licenses or they do not understand the culture associated with it. McClelland said it will be important for businesses to make their products appeal to these potential anglers, whether by providing materials in other languages or educating their staff to be sensitive to cultural differences.

Since over 20 per cent of the province’s population will be 65 or older by the year 2020, he said, a greater portion of potential customers will be seniors, and businesses must meet their wants and needs. “Ontario is very representative of what is happening elsewhere,” McClelland said. “The population is ageing.”

On the other side of the equation, he said new anglers – those 15 and under – will decrease in number, dropping from 20 per cent now to 15 per cent by 2025. There will be fewer young people coming along to join the sport, and also fewer anglers in general if businesses do not work to try and attract other groups to the sport.

Anglers are also increasingly Internet-savvy. “In the year 2000, 67 per cent of resident Ontario anglers had regular access to the Internet,” McClelland said. “74 per cent of non-resident anglers said they also had access, and in the most recent Ontario Parks survey it was over 80 per cent. That number seems to be increasing fairly quickly.”

Outfitters should make good use of the Internet and other technologies as marketing tools for attracting and satisfying new customers, he said. “There is an increased use of technology for travel planning and for booking,” McClelland added. “This is true for both those in Canada and the United States. In fact, travel bookings have become the highest category in e-commerce.”

He said hanging with the times will be essential to ensure a healthy industry, both for angling and for nature-based tourism in general. “People are looking for all ranges in the spectrum, from eco-tourism to adventure tourism to the more traditional hunting and fishing. If you can tie all the different things together, you might really be on to something.”

This article was taken from pages 8 & 9 of NOTO's "The Outfitter" publication, May/June 2003 Issue


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