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.”
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.