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Industry survey: Boat shows lead to sales

Boat shows are one of the top influencers of boat-buying decisions - behind dealership experience and the Internet - according to the 2010 Boat Show Purchase Influence Report, based on a survey conducted by Foresight Research.

Foresight Research's Ron Hein provided a detailed look at the report Tuesday during a webinar. The report is based on a survey of 3,295 buyers of new powerboats who purchased their boats between January 2009 and August 2010. The survey looked at eight powerboat segments, such as pontoon, aluminum fishing boats and cruisers, and divided participants into seven geographic regions.

Buyers said they attended an average of 1.8 boat shows before making their purchase, although that figure varies by type of boat purchased and region. Buyers of fiberglass fishing boats, for example, reported going to 2.7 shows. Radio, television and newspaper ads are the key ways consumers find out about shows.

Boat shows are a key influencer in the decision-making process because of consumers' ability to compare prices and models, as well as being able to see and climb into the boats.

"This is kind of the one-two punch," Hein said.

Most people who attend a show - 61 percent - got the information they needed at a show to make a buying decision, the research shows. The study found that 64 percent of people go to a show planning to visit the display of a brand they want to buy, although 36 percent came across the brand they ultimately purchased.

Consumers spent an average of 49 minutes at the display of the brand of boat they ultimately purchased.

There's an average of 3.3 months from the time of the boat show until the time of purchase, Hein said.

"The boat show influence is not done after the first month or two," he noted.

Most people travel about one hour to get to a boat show, although in some regions - such as the Mid-Atlantic - that time climbs to 2.3 hours on average.

The survey also looked at behaviors in the year prior to buying a boat and it found that 84 percent read information on the Internet, 75 percent received advice from others, 57 percent attended a boat show, 64 percent read a boating magazine or publication and 15 percent discussed boats on social media.

Hein noted that 41 percent of participants said they had attended a boat show as a child, showing the importance of creating a family environment at a show.

"It's probably a good investment for the future," he said.

The study was funded by a group of industry organizations led by the National Marine Manufacturers Association, including the Lake Erie Marine Trades Association, Michigan Boating Industries Association, Southern California Marine Association, Boating Trades Association of Houston, Southwest Florida Marine Industry Association and Show Management Inc.

NMMA members can download a free copy of the report by clicking here. Non-members can purchase it for $3,600 by contacting Hein at ronh@foresightresearch.com; (248) 608-1870, Ext. 18.

For help logging in to the members-only portions of the NMMA website, contact Bryan Welsh at bwelsh@nmma.org or (312) 946-6276.

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