I was on the water a few days ago with my son and he was pointing out every single boat he saw – and which ones he liked and which ones he did not. He is 5 and already favors certain kinds of boats. Of course his favorites right now are the big ones and the ones he thinks might have a toilet on them. So we both commented on all the different types and sizes and shapes of water craft we saw. We saw small skiffs, 60ft fishing boats, sail boats, pontoon boats, kayaks, paddle boards, jet skis, etc. It’s crazy, there is literally a vessel that floats for every kind of person out there.

I love seeing the subcultures that exist for the owners of all these kinds of boats. They all have one. Sailing subcultures, paddle boarding, offshore fishing etc. Like minded people who are passionate about the same thing and hang out together and learn from each other and grow the industry and the culture together. Heck – they even dress the same…..because companies exist that focus on them and make great products designed for them.

It made me think about how these successful companies (that serve these sub cultures) are often created by people from within that culture. People who had a real need for something that did not exist – so they created it in hopes of making the experience better for themselves – and then through word of mouth over time – maybe others who shares that same passion. And it happens – not overnight and not due to fancy marketing– but due to buzz in the subculture (slowly). And over time the company becomes more than just a product. The customers they bring on become customers because they want to be a part of something they love and to show support for it and to be included in the subculture. They are loyal and they are proud to say that they are a customer.

And what’s interesting is that the competing companies who come along later (that see the success and are only after the money) and offer a knock-off or a similar product (but have no idea about the subculture because they were never in it) usually never make a real impact on the industry. They might have a valuable product and sell enough to hang around – but the majority of the customers they are trying to target are really after more than just a product.