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Analysis: More buyers are opting for new boats

Dominion Marine Media said Thursday that its analysis of U.S. sales data across three of its websites revealed a growing trend of customers buying new rather than used boats during the past three years.

Research firm InfoLink Technologies Inc. evaluated more than 2.3 million customer leads generated across Dominion’s sites between October 2010 and September 2013 and discovered that Dominion communicated directly by phone or email with about 13 percent of all new-boat buyers.

The study also revealed that in almost 300,000 transactions in the United States., people requested information from one or more of Dominion’s portals, representing a conversion rate of 12.4 percent.

Dominion operates YachtWorld, Boat Trader, boats.com and Cosas De Barcos.

About 28 percent of Dominion’s leads were new-boat purchases, compared with 72 percent used. This is greatly ahead of the 2013 average for the total boat market of 18 percent new versus 82 percent used, suggesting that Dominion’s website leads point to a significantly higher propensity to purchase new boats.

“Though portals such as Boat Trader and YachtWorld have been known as predominantly pre-owned boat marketplaces, it is encouraging to see that consumers are using them more frequently to find new boats,” Dominion Marine Media president Ian Atkins said in a statement.

“We feel that by supporting an increasingly healthy used-boat market, our portals are contributing to the growth in the new-boat market resulting from the general buoyancy in the sector. Across the wider market, new-boat sales are now approaching double what they were in the depths of the downturn in 2010 and are returning to the pre-recession levels seen in 2004-05.”

Dominion said the trend toward buying new boats was even stronger among market segments that are recovering more quickly. An example is the pontoon segment: About 46 percent of boats purchased through Dominion leads were new, compared with 54 percent used.

There was variation across Dominion Marine Media’s marine portals, with boats.com showing the strongest new-versus-used split of 33 percent versus 67 percent, and Boat Trader only slightly behind with a split of 29 percent versus 71 percent.

YachtWorld showed a lower split of 20 percent versus 80 percent. Though still above the industry average, the split reflects YachtWorld’s expansive volume of sales in the brokered boat segments, which are more likely to be used.

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