Skip to main content

Don’t write off the value of boat shows

Industry survey details how consumers attend the events as a key part of the purchasing process

23_boatshows_01

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.

The report is based on a survey of 3,295 buyers of new powerboats who purchased between January 2009 and August 2010. Conducted by Foresight Research, the survey looked at eight powerboat segments, from pontoons and aluminum fishing boats to cruisers, and divided the participants into seven geographic regions.

Thom Dammrich, president of the National Marine Manufacturers Association, notes that this finding should be of particular interest to those who participate in the association's boat shows.

"This is significant for NMMA show exhibitors who participate in the NMMA Advantage program," he says. "NMMA Advantage combines the reach of online advertising with the power of on-site selling - it bridges the gap between the three most influential marketing channels, bringing together the dealer, Internet and boat shows."

This new report analyzes all marketing channels that play a role in a new-boat buyer's decision-making process, offering insight for dealers and builders about how to best structure marketing plans to maximize results.

"In an era when every dollar invested in marketing needs to deliver a measurable return, the data in our all-encompassing 'U.S. Boating Industry Marketing Communications Influence' report is invaluable, revealing information marine businesses can use to evaluate their marketing communications mix and strategically coordinate their marketing efforts to maximize effectiveness," says Ron Hein, executive vice president at Foresight.

The study found that prior to purchase the average boat buyer sought information from more than four sources. The Internet, word-of-mouth advice, boating magazines/publications and boat shows were the sources cited most frequently.

A boat buyer's age makes a difference in terms of the influence of a marketing channel. For example, boat shows were more influential to buyers ages 35-54 than they were to buyers ages 18-34 or 55 and older.

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, TV 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 and see and climb aboard boats. "This is kind of the one-two punch," Hein says.

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

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 found that 84 percent read information on the Internet, 75 percent received advice from others, 64 percent read a boating magazine or publication, 57 percent attended a boat show, and 15 percent discussed boats on social media.

Hein says 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 says.

The study was funded by a group of industry organizations led by the NMMA, 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 from the association's website. Non-members can purchase it for $3,600 by contacting Hein at ronh@foresightresearch.com, or (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.

This article originally appeared in the January 2011 issue.

Related

VOLVO-EARNINGS

Volvo Penta Reports Q4, FY22 Results

Net sales of $470 million for the quarter were a 33% increase compared to the prior year period.

Pulse-Report

DEALERS: Are You Improving the Service Experience?

Our monthly Pulse Report survey asks this and other questions about your dealership. Take the survey here.

NMRA-SCHOLARSHIP

NMRA Sets Scholarship Deadline

Students pursuing education in the marine trades can apply for the National Marine Representatives Association awards until April 1.

MARINE-PRODUCTS

Marine Products Reports Record Q4

The builder of Chaparral and Robalo boats reported net sales were up 42% for the quarter and 28% for fiscal year 2022.

1_SHURHOLD

Shurhold Appoints COO

Forrest Ferrari has years of management, business development, IT and quality-assurance experience.

MOBILE-CATCH-CENTER

RBFF, Pure Fishing Partner for a First Catch Center

Pure Fishing will equip a mobile trailer with tackle and gear to bring fishing experiences to areas of South Carolina where participation is low.

Norm

An Oft-Overlooked Sales Opportunity

A recent report from the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation showed that women comprise 37% of all anglers. If you haven’t tapped this segment, you’re missing out.

1. 2023 new boat retail outlook

Too Many High-Priced Boats

To wrap up 2022, marine retailers reported lower demand, expressed more negative sentiment and voiced concerns about rising inventory. Boat prices and the economy remained top of mind for dealers in December.

Soundings Nov 2022

New-Boat Registrations Continue to Slide

As the gaudy sales figures from the pandemic continue to return to more realistic numbers, the main segments of the recreational boating industry saw new-model registrations of 4,421 in November, a 30.3% drop from 6,340 during the same time in 2021. .