First-time boat buyers are in decline, and retention rates are shrinking

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First-time boat buyers are in decline, and retention rates are shrinking

Postby WB Staff » Sun Dec 22, 2019 9:51 pm

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First-time boat buyers are in decline, and retention rates are shrinking

Research Indicates Decline in First-Time Boat Buyers
by Alan Wendt
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First-time boat buyers are in decline, and retention rates are shrinking, according to research presented at MRAA’s Dealer Week in Tampa, Fla.

Despite a solid recovery in boat sales since the Great Recession, averaging 7 percent per year since 2012, a longer look may be catching the industry by surprise, said Phil Smoker of Smoker Craft, who presented the statistics in one of the 10 x 10 talks with leaders from inside and outside the industry.

“I think we were all excited about the rebound from the recession and increase in per unit dollar sales, and thought other factors were contributing to the aging of the boating public,” Smoker said.


First-time boat buyers in 2000 comprised 42 percent of sales. Last year that number had fallen to 31 percent. Perhaps of greater concern is retaining first-time buyers. InfoLink data looked at 380,000 first-time buyers in 2013 and found that by 2018, 39 percent were out of boating.

The reasons included costs that the buyer didn’t anticipate, such as storage and maintenance, in addition to boating knowledge and skills. Those who stayed in boating said the better the experience they had, the less cost had an effect, with higher perceived value.

Smoker challenged dealers to rewrite the meaning of affordability to include creating opportunities for customers to use their boats. “We need to sell the experience,” he said.

Customers told researchers that hands-on, on-the-water training was a big plus in retention and suggested that the industry bundle maintenance and/or storage in the cost of the boat or as an upsell as part of a wider effort at cost transparency.

Smoker said his group of companies is working with dealer bases on a new incentive called Turn and Earn, which increases dealer discounts by ordering specific factory-packaged models.

The concern extends to first-time buyers of used boats. Sales figures showed a direct correlation between the age of the used boat and sharper declines in retention.

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Mitch
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Re: First-time boat buyers are in decline, and retention rates are shrinking

Postby Mitch » Mon Dec 23, 2019 12:18 pm

That includes ALL types of Boats ! I'd like to see where just the Bass Boat buyers are. I'm on my 5th Ranger and none of my boats have been NEW !!! At 72, I'm probably on my last boat as I have everything upgraded on it and it's in great shape ! The cost of a new Bass Boat has just gone CRAZY and now even on the used market the cost is high. It's hard to buy a new boat and still be raising a family.
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JoeLanghans
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Re: First-time boat buyers are in decline, and retention rates are shrinking

Postby JoeLanghans » Mon Dec 23, 2019 1:32 pm

Banks are no longer financing anything with a heartbeat, you now have to qualify. Cost of living compared to income ratio is too out of wack. Lack of boat storage. Younger generation doesn’t want to work so they can only afford Kayaks. Boat prices (payments) are over inflated. Cost of ownership has increased past affordability. Gas prices are ridiculously high.

gixxer464
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Re: First-time boat buyers are in decline, and retention rates are shrinking

Postby gixxer464 » Mon Dec 23, 2019 4:46 pm

No surprise really. I remember not too long ago <20 years ago you were able to buy a new fully rigged fiberglass 20 foot bass boat for about 45k and a brand new 2500 class pickup for around 35k. What has changed so drastically that a new fully rigged fiberglass 20 foot bass boat cost 70k and a brand new 2500 class pickup cost 60k? Is it the economy? Supply and demand? Living in California? It just doesn’t make sense.

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Re: First-time boat buyers are in decline, and retention rates are shrinking

Postby BigBassDaddy1190 » Mon Dec 23, 2019 6:44 pm

gixxer464 wrote:No surprise really. I remember not too long ago <20 years ago you were able to buy a new fully rigged fiberglass 20 foot bass boat for about 45k and a brand new 2500 class pickup for around 35k. What has changed so drastically that a new fully rigged fiberglass 20 foot bass boat cost 70k and a brand new 2500 class pickup cost 60k? Is it the economy? Supply and demand? Living in California? It just doesn’t make sense.


I would say a little of everything you mentioned. Including the rising cost of wages and materials in general.

MGJR
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Re: First-time boat buyers are in decline, and retention rates are shrinking

Postby MGJR » Tue Dec 24, 2019 5:42 am

What I see...is the ones who do/can afford continue to be able to afford. Those who cannot...are being priced out of the market. I remember when my first new boat was 33K and I about **** myself...I looked at a new ranger the other day and MSRP was 85. Insanity - in many states, you can buy a house for that. If you bought a new mid range truck and new mid range boat - you would be in over 100k. The median income in the US - can't make that happen. Even gently used boats are around 50k - still out of control. If you are in CA - then add taxes, gas, registration, luxury tax, etc...even more expensive with your 3000K mortgage!

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Re: First-time boat buyers are in decline, and retention rates are shrinking

Postby scott39 » Tue Dec 24, 2019 7:44 am

MGJR wrote:What I see...is the ones who do/can afford continue to be able to afford. Those who cannot...are being priced out of the market. I remember when my first new boat was 33K and I about **** myself...I looked at a new ranger the other day and MSRP was 85. Insanity - in many states, you can buy a house for that. If you bought a new mid range truck and new mid range boat - you would be in over 100k. The median income in the US - can't make that happen. Even gently used boats are around 50k - still out of control. If you are in CA - then add taxes, gas, registration, luxury tax, etc...even more expensive with your 3000K mortgage!

Spot on. Until people that can afford these things say enough is enough it will continue to rise. Unfortunately that will never happen. It is just our culture to have the biggest and best and keep up with the Jones'
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Re: First-time boat buyers are in decline, and retention rates are shrinking

Postby DDG » Tue Dec 24, 2019 12:21 pm

I think the younger gen is just not willing to put themselves into debt for a boat and truck. Myself being one of them, I rather have a savings than a boat and truck payment, especially when you work hard for your $

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Re: First-time boat buyers are in decline, and retention rates are shrinking

Postby Water_Dog » Tue Dec 24, 2019 7:05 pm

$75,000+ for a luxury item is insane, especially for working class. There's a reason guys are just putting new motors on the boats they have when a new boat cost nearly as much as a house. I don't want that 15-20 year boat payment either.

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JoeLanghans
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Re: First-time boat buyers are in decline, and retention rates are shrinking

Postby JoeLanghans » Wed Dec 25, 2019 5:56 am

DDG wrote:I think the younger gen is just not willing to put themselves into debt for a boat and truck. Myself being one of them, I rather have a savings than a boat and truck payment, especially when you work hard for your $

Studies show that the younger generation in the US (20-40 years old) averages $1000 in their checking account and less than $5000 in savings. Consumer debt has reached an all time high at $13.8 trillion. Boats are no longer affordable for most potential buyers cause they have reached their debt ceiling.

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Re: First-time boat buyers are in decline, and retention rates are shrinking

Postby george » Wed Dec 25, 2019 7:48 am

The big brands are pricing themselves right out of their market! The majority of the guys who bass fish and would love to keep fishing bass tournaments can no longer afford to buy a new bass boat as they are all moving to a price point that is inconceivable for ninety percent of them!
This is why you are seeing tons of these guys going to lower end and lower priced aluminum boats or switching over to the Kayak crowd as they no longer can afford or want to afford the thousand a month to own a new Ranger, Triton, Phoenix, Bass Cat or Skeeter boat not including the cost of fishing a tournament or two!
Boat manufactures need to wake up as the first things that get kicked out of the family budget are the frills and luxury items and any non necessities.

George

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Re: First-time boat buyers are in decline, and retention rates are shrinking

Postby birdman920 » Wed Dec 25, 2019 8:44 pm

on a related subject !, how many of you boat owners have noticed your county use tax ( luxury tax) not going down as much as it used too ‘ due to depreciation ?, looks to me like , they keep the assessed value “high ‘ so they can’t keep ripping you off !....


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