If you follow any of the industry research and data pertaining to programs to get young people more involved in fishing, then you know that nearly all such efforts have met with disappointing results. A writer for one of the industry’s leading fishing trade publications penned an article a couple years back that bluntly stated that the sport fishing industry needs to stop putting so much emphasis on getting young people involved and simply pursue those who are most likely to get involved. The custom rod building industry should heed this advice.
The RodMaker Magazine reader poll taken some years ago showed that the age of most rod builders is between 50 and 70 and that most people who build custom rods didn’t pick up the craft until well after they were 40 years old. There is great value in this data if you know how to interpret it. Far more so than younger people, those over the age of 40 have the time, the means and the money to actively participate in crafts and hobbies like custom rod building. And most stay with it until a very advanced age.
As it turns out, the important thing isn’t the age of the person getting started in the craft – it’s simply the fact that they get started.
If you can get younger people involved in custom rod building so much the better, but it’s not the young people that have been or will be, the future of the craft. Putting the bulk of your marketing dollars towards young people might seem like a smart move, but the data proves otherwise. For every dollar you spend creating a single rod builder under the age of 20, the same dollar will create four or five new rod builders over the age of 40.
If the goal is to create more rod builders, aim your marketing at the demographic that is proven to be the source of most of those involved in the craft – the over 40 crowd. They are and have always been the future of custom rod building.