Study: Dealership experience the biggest influence on boat buyers

DETROIT – Foresight Research recently announced that a new study ranks “Dealership Experience” as the highest contributor of new boat sales influence in the boat buying process.

Each new boat buyer in the national study rated 11 different forms of marketing on how much each contributed to their eventual boat purchase. The different forms included all types of advertising, print and electronic editorials, brochures, experiential events like shows and seminars, the dealership experience, Internet searches, social media and television programming about boating.

Across all the marketing channels studied the calculated share of sales influence from the dealership experience ranked highest overall. The Internet, boat shows, print articles and brochures rounded out the top five sources of sales influence.

These top five sources provide 59.6 percent of the total sales influence from marketing communications. Depending on the buyer’s activities, however, the order of the influencers may change. For example, among buyers that attended one or more boat shows prior to purchase, the boat show provided the most influence followed by the dealership experience.

The data source for the report is the 2010 U.S. Boating Industry Marketing Communications Influence Study, commissioned by marine industry organizations led by the National Marine Manufacturers Association. The study surveyed 3,295 people across the U.S. who purchased a new boat in an 18-month period ending August 2010.

“Based on the data from recent buying experiences of thousands of buyers, it is clear that the dealership is a lot more than a distribution point for boats,” Ron Hein, executive vice president of Foresight Research, said in a release. “The dealership experience provides a great deal of rational and emotional input which buyers need to formulate or finalize their purchase decision. To be most successful a dealership must understand what attracts buyers to the dealership, what are their needs and expectations and what key messages need to be communicated.”

While the report shows all buyers are looking for great pricing and deals, the reputation of the dealership ranks as the second highest factor in dealer selection, above the dealer’s service capabilities and inventory. The dealer’s website is important especially in attracting first time boat owners.

Buyers are most positively influenced by a dealership that is a comfortable place to shop with accessorized boats on display. Female buyers mention the service department capabilities more often as a key influencer.

Financing availability was rated as highly influential among only 24 percent.

The report found that female buyers and prior boat owners express more influence from their dealership experience than males and first-time buyers. Additionally, female buyers exhibit a much higher degree of loyalty to a given dealership. Female buyers also seek out dealers differently than men. Male buyers often find out about a dealer by driving by a location close to home, while females seek recommendations, read dealer ads and seek dealers at boat shows.

Foresight’s complete research report offers detailed views of the data, including by boat segment and by buyer demographics. This report is available at a price of $3,950 and to NMMA members at a discounted price of $3,600.

The 2010 Boating Industry Dealership Experience Influence Report is one in a series of in-depth reports on marketing communication channels that have the greatest impact on purchase.

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