Survey: Internet research fuels new boat sales

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A study from Foresight Research shows that 84 percent of new boat buyers had read or seen boat information on the Internet prior to making their purchase decision.

Most used the Internet to compare brands, models, motors and pricing.

Overall, just 15 percent of new buyers discussed boats on social media websites; however, this usage varied significantly by boat segment purchased. Buyers of ski boats and cruisers were significantly more likely to use social media than aluminum fishing boat and personal watercraft buyers.

Further, pre-purchase social media usage decreases significantly with age. Among buyers under the age of 35, nearly one in three (29 percent) used social media to discuss their pending boat purchase.

Foresight announced the findings from its 2010 Boating Industry Internet & Social Media Influence Report.

The report was commissioned by marine industry organizations led by the National Marine Manufacturers Association. The study surveyed 3,295 people across the country who purchased a new boat during an 18-month period that ended last August.

"What we are seeing is the profound effect of peer-to-peer communication on social networking sites, which will have an increasingly dramatic influence on boat purchase decision making," Ron Hein, executive vice president of Foresight, said in a statement.

"What's also interesting is that buyers influenced by social media also report higher influence from virtually every communication channel. They are highly influenced by a total of 6.4 communication channels, versus 4.0 for the average boat buyer," he added. "This suggests that social media is not replacing other forms of communications, but is instead an additional source and may be encouraging buyers who use this medium to seek additional information while shopping."

Additional key findings include:

  • Among buyers highly influenced by the Internet, 42 percent read boat evaluations posted by others, 38 percent researched or chose a dealer online and 31 percent requested a boat brochure online.
  • Buyers highly influenced by the Internet were asked whether they would buy a boat online. One in four (25 percent) indicated they would buy online and nearly one-third (31 percent) said they were unsure/it depends.

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