Dominion Marine Media (DMM) recently announced the findings from its in-depth analysis of U.S. sales leads across three of its sites – YachtWorld, Boat Trader and boats.com. One of the key factors revealed by this analysis was the surprising speed at which new boat buyers are making purchase decisions, giving a valuable insight into consumer trends across the boating industry as a whole.
Info-Link conducted the lead analysis for DMM to identify consumer purchase behaviors and provide overall market intelligence. The firm evaluated more than 2.3 million customer leads generated across DMM’s sites between October 2010 and September 2013. This extraordinarily large sample was then used to generate statistics on sales conversion rates (the number of website inquiries that eventually led to a boat purchase), the average time taken to make that conversion and other key performance measures across each of DMM’s websites.
As previously reported, among all DMM portal leads, 12.4 percent of leads actually purchased a boat. Moreover, among those that did purchase, 28 percent purchased a new boat versus a pre-owned boat, which indicates DMM portals have a very strong penetration among new boat buyers.
In addition, the study found that when measured, from the point of their initial DMM website inquiry, over half of customers who went on to buy a new boat did so within less than 60 days. This is a surprisingly fast conversion time for what is often such a substantial purchase, with buyers spending many thousands of dollars and even hundreds of thousands in some cases depending on the size and type of boat they’re buying.
Breaking down the time to purchase across each of DMM’s three U.S. portals, there were some clear trends evident across all three. boats.com had the highest incidence of quick decision-making buyers, with 57 percent of new boat buyers taking less than 60 days to make their purchase following the initial website inquiry, 70 percent taking less than 120 days and only 24 percent taking more than 180 days.
For Boat Trader, 53 percent of new boat buyers took less than 60 days to make their purchase, with 71 percent taking less than 120 days and – like boats.com – just under a quarter taking more than 180 days.
As one might expect, YachtWorld’s conversion tended to be somewhat slower than that of boats.com and Boat Trader. YachtWorld’s transaction base contains significantly larger boats and the nature of these transactions are more complex and therefore do take longer to consummate.
While the high proportion of fast-moving decision makers is the main surprise in these numbers, some buyers still remain a slow burn. However, it is also surprising that only around a quarter of buyers are now taking more than six months to make the final purchase decision, showing a really fundamental shift in the speed of consumers’ decision making processes compared to what might traditionally have been expected in days gone by.
As you might expect, the speed of time to buy is even more magnified during the summer months, peaking in May and June when the overall average time from initial enquiry to final purchase is under 60 days.
These findings combine with the evidence that, across all boat types, customers from DMM’s lead base are often up to twice as likely to purchase a new boat rather than a used one compared with the wider market average. All this points to consumer behavior in the boating sector moving into line with overall consumer trends, with new boat buyers more likely to conduct detailed research online, where they expect and demand all the information they need to enable them to move very quickly towards a buying decision.
Historically, the DMM portals have been viewed as consumer gateways to the pre-owned market. These findings once again contradict that view and support the fact that new boat buyers are not only doing research on the DMM portals to facilitate the purchase decision process, but also acting on that research within a very short period of time. Now more than ever, it appears that positioning your brand in front of consumers that are in the active purchase process is key to capturing the modern boat buying consumer.