Robalo Boats introduced its R160 on Tuesday in a 6-minute Facebook video, a first for the company.
“In one of our meetings we said, you know, we should just try something totally different than we’ve ever done before,” Chaparral and Robalo president Jim Lane told Trade Only Today prior to Tuesday’s launch.
The company took its Facebook account and tied it in with its dealer network’s Facebook pages in an effort to take the brand’s new R160 and try to launch it through social media, Lane said.
“That’s a little bit of a difference for us to do that because we’ve always used more traditional ways of introducing new product — boat shows or dealer meetings. But this time it’s all going to be on social media,” he said.
That fits into the concept of the boat itself — a 16-foot center console that comes with boat, motor and trailer for just under $20,000 “with all the quality benefits of a standard Robalo,” Lane said.
Achieving that in itself is already quite a project. “We had to put in a lot of engineering thought and know-how in order to achieve that,” he said.
The video had gotten nearly 400 likes by this morning, less than 24 hours after the launch, and 113 shares. It also had several comments, many of which simply tagged a person to alert them to the video.
The boat has a wide, molded non-skid casting platform with a compartment that opens to a fishbox. It comes with a low bow rail, but a high rail is an option. An insulated cooler under the seat can be upgraded to a live well. As with the R180, there’s high freeboard for safety in rough seas.
The boat has a reversible helm seat and features extra-wide gunnels and an extra-wide casting platform. It has an extended V-plane hull to fish from either side; the aft casting deck hinges forward for fuel tank access.
“We’re obviously appealing to a little bit younger buyer than we have in the past,” Lane said.
That was the idea, given the success of the H20, the Chaparral line that runs from 18 to 21 feet that has hit a lot of brand-new buyers.
“On that line, almost 80 percent of them had never owned a boat, and almost 40 percent of those buyers of H20 are under 40,” Lane said. “On the Robalo side, the same data is only 11 percent. So we thought perhaps we were not marketing Robalo to get what we’d call seed customers. Even though we did have an 18-foot and 19-foot Robalo, we thought we were missing the younger buyers. That’s how the 16 project started.”