First-Time Buyers Create CSI Challenge

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First-time boat buyers are finally on the rise.

First-time boat buyers are finally on the rise.

It’s official: The number of first-time boat buyers is on the rise. The industry has been hearing a lot of anecdotal evidence about the increase in first-time buyers, and Info-Link has empirical data to back up the claim.

“Over the past couple of decades, the incidence of first-time boat buyers has been on a steady decline, but we are now seeing a significant and welcome reversal of this trend,” Jack Ellis, managing director of Info-Link, told Trade Only Today. “The percentage of first-time buyers so far this year is up across almost every segment, especially runabouts, small cruisers and pontoon boats — in other words, boats that are particularly appealing for family recreation.”

The industry now will have to focus on retaining the new boaters.

The industry now will have to focus on retaining the new boaters.

Historically, however, 42 percent of first-time boat buyers sell their boat within five years and opt not to replace it, Ellis said.

“We’ve got this influx of first-time buyers, now what do we do to keep them?” Ellis said.

As sales increase, customer service indices have dropped, likely driven by a lack of follow-up by the dealer or salesperson, wrote Matt Gruhn, president of the Marine Retailers Association of the Americas, in a blog post.

Responding to the importance of customer service, MRAA has set up a Keep Customers Boating portal that includes a wealth of resources.

“MRAA’s role is really focused on retaining those customers,” Gruhn said.


NMMA Confirms Industry Growth

NMMA president Frank Hugelmeyer said the boating business grew 12 percent last year during yesterday’s virtual State of the Boating Industry address.

Newport Show Dates Announced

Organizers are planning for an in-person Golden Anniversary edition of the show Sept. 16-19.

Quick Hits: March 5, 2021

The National Association of Manufacturers names Brunswick Corp. CFO Ryan Gwillim to its Board of Directors.

Caught Red-Handed

Two commercial fishermen were jailed for possessing an illegal haul that included 100 undersized lobster tails, which is a felony. Also, fisheries management gets new funding.

Bennington Expands Operations

The pontoon builder plans to add jobs at its new facility in Elkhart County, Ind., and increase manufacturing output.

KVH Industries Names CFO

Longtime telecom financial executive Roger A. Kuebel assumes the position that COO Brent Bruun had held in an interim capacity.