Study: Boat shows lead to sales

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A new study shows that boat shows are a major influence on those looking to buy a boat. Nearly six in 10 new-boat buyers attended at least one show in the 12 months before they bought their boat.

The study was conducted by Foresight Research, which looked at the marketing channels that have the most influence on consumers' decision to purchase a new boat.

The study calculates the total share of influence from a number of marketing channels, including dealership experience, the Internet, boat shows, print articles, brochures, print advertising, boat dealer sales events/races/seminars, TV advertising and programming, direct mail, social media and radio.

The findings are the result of interviews among 3,295 buyers who purchased a boat during the 18-month period that ended in August.

Of note, consumers who were highly influenced by boat shows ranked the ability to compare boats, models and prices and the ability to board boats as the most influential elements.

Additional key findings include:

  • For consumers who attended a boat show, the show had the most influence on their decision to buy a boat (57 percent, ranking four or five on a five-point scale) versus their experience at a dealership (54 percent) and the Internet (47 percent).
  • Buyers said boat shows have the most influence during the interest/consideration phase of the purchase process. Boat show attendees often "discover" brands they may not have known about.
  • Among buyers who attended a boat show, 70 percent purchased their new boat within three months of attending the show.
  • Nearly six in 10 new-boat buyers (57 percent) attended at least one boat show in the 12 months prior to buying their boat.
  • Nearly 20 percent of new-boat buyers were introduced to their dealer at a boat show.

"This is one of the richest databases we've come across on how consumers are influenced in the boat-buying process," said Carl Blackwell, vice president of  the National Marine Manufacturers Association. "The findings offer valuable insight for manufacturers and dealers to optimize their marketing efforts. Not only does the study reveal the most influential marketing channels, it also spells out why they are influential."

This independently conducted 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.

The report will be provided to NMMA members at no cost as a member benefit. NMMA is expected to e-mail the report to its members and boat show/boat dealer exhibitors in the near future.

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