This post on dive industry trends serves as a TL;DR summary of key findings and observations from our first two sections on the dive industry:

So far, we’ve looked at the current situation in the dive industry – an overview. Then, we’ve used five strategic analysis methods to study what the dive industry is facing and where it is (or should be) going.

This post serves as a wrap-up of these two sections before jumping into discussing strategies for the scuba diving industry to create a visionary and inspiring future with innovative solutions.

Many current dive industry trends are dreadful. It’s up to us to create a visionary future with innovative solutions.

1. Dive Industry Trends – Summary

The scuba diving trends outlined below are presented in no particular order, especially not in order of importance.

Dive Industry-Wide Trends

  • The scuba diving industry is in its Mature or Declining stage. It means:
    • Consolidation is inevitable. We’ve seen it happening already: Mares with SSI; PADI with Diviac and Bonnier; Huish Outdoors acquiring numerous dive gear brands.
    • New growth will come from new products & services.
  • The participation rate for scuba diving is shrinking. Participation by “core divers” is dropping even faster.
  • The new generation of scuba divers tends to be “casual divers.”
  • Consumers expectations continue to rise with much less tolerance for unacceptable quality and customer service.
  • Consumers growingly want convenience.
  • Local dive shops (origin dive centers) are being bypassed for gear sales and dive training (done via a mix of online training and dive resort certification).
  • The scuba diving market is becoming less heterogeneous than it was when baby boomers were the only target.
  • Product differentiation is becoming nonexistent. Most scuba courses and dive gear are becoming commodities.
  • There’s continued downward pressure on prices. With a lack of innovation and product differentiation, competition is based on pricing.
  • The respect of all laws, regulations, and standards is growing in importance.
  • The number of local dive shops in North America is steadily shrinking.
  • Restrictions on direct and digital marketing are growing.

Scuba diving Training Trends

  • New diver certifications are shrinking, and they have been doing so for years.
  • Training agencies are stepping into direct-to-consumer, both for travel and scuba courses.
  • The turn over of dive professionals (instructors & divemasters) continues to be high, making it challenging to ensure consistency in the quality of the experience.

Dive Gear (Toys) Trends

  • New divers want to travel light. They also want to do various activities besides scuba diving in their vacations. It leads to fewer purchases of bulky gear. Even the sales of fins, mask & snorkel are trending toward mask & snorkel, only.
  • Local dive shops can no longer depend on selling gear to cover the costs of courses and other departments.
  • Less certifications lead to less gear sales.
  • Dive gear sales per new diver are down.

Dive Travel Trends

  • Origin dive centers (local dive shops) as a portal to dive travel is dying.
  • Booking of dive travels is getting done directly with the resort or through a specialized portal offering numerous destinations, like Diviac (not owned by PADI). Training agencies are stepping into direct-to-consumer, both for travel and scuba courses.
  • The new generation of scuba divers is less likely to go on a “dive trip” and expected to do scuba diving among many other activities during their vacation.
  • Dive resorts see an increase in clients coming to them to be certified without any visit to a local dive store.
  • The deterioration of the environment is putting more resorts at risk.

2. Dive Industry Strategic Analysis Preliminary Conclusions

Here are a few dive industry strategies worth exploring, in no particular order. These strategies are born out of our take on dive industry trends and preliminary conclusions from our strategic analysis of the scuba diving industry.

We’ll discuss these strategies in the section on Strategies for the Scuba Diving Industry.

Industry-Wide Strategies

Training & Equipment-related Strategies

Gear Specific:

Training Specific:

All of that being said, the first step for a dive industry investor should be defining how to create a blue ocean where no-one has gone before, steering away from the red sea of competition.

3. What’s Next?

We summarized, above, key trends, findings, and observations from our first two sections on the dive industry:

It’s now time to discuss innovative strategies for the scuba diving industry. “Business as usual” doesn’t cut it anymore.