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Drop in First-Time Boat Buyers, Study

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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.

This story was originally reported by Reagan Haynes on www.TradeOnlyToday.com.

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.

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