Stabicraft making waves in US market

Stabicraft making waves in US market
Stabicraft’s 2500 Ultracab XL has enjoyed outstanding success in the United States Northwest market since being launched in 2016.

Two of Stabicraft’s most recently released models are making big waves around the world for the Invercargill-based designer and manufacturer of premium alloy chambered-hull boats.
The outstanding success of Stabicraft’s 2500 Ultracab XL, launched in the United States Northwest late 2016, represents a turning point in a traditionally tough market, marketing manager Daniel Upperton says.
While Stabicraft has had a presence in the United States for about 20 years, it has been a “pretty tough nut to crack”, he says.
“The last US boat show season in January and February was our most successful show season ever. “It’s been a real turning point for us in understanding those US customers and delivering them a product that they really feel they can relate to.”
The company attends shows in Portland, Seattle and Anchorage, Alaska, each year. Its research showed buying a boat is very much a family decision in the United States, with the wife or partner closely involved, whereas in Australasia it was mostly men who led the process.
“Just understanding that is really fundamental to how we set these boats up for a family, as opposed to a hard core fishing vessel.”
Consequently there is a strong emphasis on the boat’s ability to transport and accommodate a family or fishing party in warmth and comfort, including the ability to sleep four adults.
The cabin includes a galley and fold-up dining table, with woodwork and vinyl trim adding to its aesthetic appeal.
In contrast to the Australasian raked back windscreen, the 2500 Ultracab XL sports a forward facing pilot-house style wheelhouse, a design that instantly registers in the North American psyche.
“It has really resonated with the US customers,” says Daniel. Recommended power for the 7.62 metre boat, which is rated to carry up to nine adults, is twin 150hp outboards, but it can handle up to 400hp.
The standard model includes numerous clever design features and innovations, with the option of adding many extras to customise it to individual needs.

Stabicraft making waves in US market
Designed with the US market in mind, the Stabicraft 2500 Ultracab XL can accommodate a family or fishing party in warmth and comfort, including the ability to sleep four adults.

Prototyping the boat was a significant part of the design process during which Stabicraft created full-scale mock ups and had United States dealers view them.
“That gave us a really good insight into what was going to work and what wouldn’t.” A key discovery was a clear preference for a larger cabin than Kiwi and Aussie boaties traditionally wanted.
“They will gladly give up some deck space to increase their cabin size to have a few more creature comforts.”
“The biggest light-bulb moment was really utilising every single inch of space and turning it into something useful.” Almost 18 months after its launch, the result is an incredibly successful high-end craft that sells for around $US150,000.
Feedback has been “phenomenal” Daniel says, but its success goes beyond the boat itself and represents a brand breakthrough for Stabicraft in the United States; the largest recreational market in the world. There is also plenty of good news in the Southern Hemisphere.
The release of the 1550 Fisher, also in late 2016, has met with equal enthusiasm in New Zealand as well as overseas, including in the United States. “The 1550 Fisher is probably the biggest success story of a new model release in Stabicraft’s history.
We know we’ve taken a huge amount of market share back just with the release of this model,” says Daniel.
Innovation based on extensive consultation with boaties and fishermen was again the key in designing a craft to meet the market. Measuring 4.7m/15.5 feet and powered by a motor from 50hp to 75 hp, the 1550 Fisher is a versatile and easy-to-handle boat.
It sports an array of standard features including a walk-through windscreen for easy bow access, a 70 litre Icey-tek chilly bin with a seat squab, three Shimano tackle boxes and ample well-considered storage space. Many optional extras are also available.
The 1550 Fisher’s feature-packed design and functionality, in a boat with a base price of $34,995 hits a perfect sweet spot and is unparalleled in the sub five metre boat market, Daniel says. Despite this, dealer support in seeing the opportunity the boat presented was crucial.
“The dealers have absolutely got on board which is a huge part of the sales process and this has echoed through to the end-user sales.
Marketing and promotion of both boats included extensive use of professional video production which have proved extremely popular worldwide, and critically, social media.
While the two boats were designed for specific markets, such is their success that there is some sales crossover between the Northern and Southern Hemisphere.
“The whole package from the features, sales channel and marketing came together really well and its success speaks for itself”
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