First-time boat buyers represent 33 percent of all boats sold in the U.S., which is nearly a 20 percent decline since 2005.
The decline is largely the reason that the age of the average boat owner continues to increase – the number of owners under the age of 50 has gone from 55 percent of all owners to fewer than 35 percent.
That’s according to a Grow Boating study released today and titled “First-Time Boat Buyer.” In the years following 2000, boat owners have decreased by one million, said Grow Boating president Carl Blackwell.
Another key insight from the First-Time Boat Buyer research is that two-thirds of first-time buyers will only provide personal information at the point of purchase, which means that manufacturers and dealers are not getting traditional leads from two-thirds of first-time buyers.
“The way people shop today is very different than in 2005, and through this in-depth analysis we, as an industry, have to realize that traditional leads may soon be harder to come by and there is a need to identify more impactful ways to connect with potential first-time buyers,” Blackwell said in a statement.
Because of changes in consumer shopping and online behavior during the past decade, the board of Grow Boating commissioned the study to better understand today’s first-time boat buyer and determine how manufacturers, dealers and the industry’s marketing campaign, Discover Boating, can apply the findings to generate sales.
The study identified six types of first-time buyers: the “gear guys,” or mostly younger men who are motivated by hobbies with specialized equipment; the merry mates, those who want to connect as a family; luxurious, image-conscious people who seek status; water weekenders, those who did not grow up boating, but love hosting friends and family on their own boat; seclusion seekers, or nature lovers who seek to escape busy lives; and nautical natives, those who grew up boating and continue to do so.