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ASA CEO: there are a lot of newcomers out there and we need to rethink how we communicate with them

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Glenn Hughes, the President of the American Sportfishing Association (ASA), has urged US tackle manufacturers to rethink the ways in which they communicate with consumers.

Speaking at this week’s virtual ASA Summit, Hughes (pictured below) said: “We need to re-evaluate and revise our advertising, marketing and education programmes to speak directly to their wants and needs.” And he suggested that the association was addressing the issue when he added: “There will be more to come on this throughout the year.”

Hughes’s comments were prompted by data contained in a recent survey conducted by the research company, Southwick Associates, which revealed that 80% of anglers who fished last year consider themselves to be beginners or intermediates. The report also showed that 93% of anglers first went fishing with family or friends at the average age of ten. “So let’s make sure we speak to them and share information,” added Hughes.

The President’s upbeat address captured the current mood of an industry riding an unprecedented escalation in participation and tackle sales. “I have spoken to hundreds of industry colleagues who have told me that sales are off the charts and that they are having their best year ever,” he said. “They are blowing away last year’s sales.

“Most of them can’t keep up with production. If they could make and distribute more product, then they are saying their sales would be much higher. I am confident the industry will catch up with sales by next Spring.” Hughes’s enthusiasm was backed by some impressive statistics. The Recreational Fishing and Boating Foundation (RBFF) had 18 million visits to its Take Me Fishing digital property for the whole of last year, but that figure has reached 40m in only six months this year, an increase of nearly 200%.

YouTube views have increased by 840% and the Foundation’s Get On Board campaign video has attracted more than 20m views. The upsurge in interest has also been reflected in licence sales, where there has been a net gain of more than three million through August versus last year, with all 45 states that responded to an RBFF study showing an increase.

And figures to the end of August – with one month of the fiscal year still to go – show that fishing tackle sales are up 30% in 2020 over 2019. “That’s amazing growth,” said Hughes. “We have never seen year-over-year numbers like this before.”

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