Archive for » May 16th, 2017«

Boat industry frets about fewer first-time buyers

A rising tide lifts all boats, but some buyers are missing from the recreational marine market even with a surge in overall boat sales.

First-time boat buyers account for a third of all boat sales in the U.S. – but that’s down nearly 20% from 2005, according to a new study from the National Marine Manufacturers Association in Chicago.

“While the recreational boating industry has recovered from the recession, each year we are seeing fewer people enter boating for the first time,” said Carl Blackwell, president of the NMMA’s Grow Boating initiative.

“If we could convince just 2% more of the consumers, who are now dropping out, to purchase their first boat, it would make a significant difference in boat sales,” Blackwell said.

The study, based on 2015 data, profiled six types of first-time boat owners, including their interests and psychographic traits.

One type was called “gear guys.” They’re young men, and some women, motivated by hobbies with specialized equipment.

“The gear guys are intrigued by the tech and the specs. They crave details, so when they’re ready to buy a boat, they want to talk to the experts. For the gear guys, it’s not about being on the water. It’s about the boat,” the study noted. “They’ll drive a hard bargain. This isn’t their first rodeo. … They have experience buying big-ticket leisure items.”

Other types of first-time boat buyers, according to the study, include “water weekenders” who view boating as an event, “seclusion seekers” wanting a boat to explore nature and “luxurious leisurers” desiring a boat for social status.

Regardless of the profile, first-time buyers are getting scarce. That worries John Kukuk, vice chairman of the Wisconsin Marine Association and the owner of Nestegg Marine in Marinette, Wis.

“How do we capture the first-time buyer? That’s a tough question we are all trying to figure out,” Kukuk said.

For millennials, student debt is one of the obstacles to boat ownership, as often they’re strapped for cash and can’t afford big-ticket leisure items.

“That is a really tough situation. And we’re not getting enough youth coming up the ranks of boating,” Kukuk said.

There’s so much else, such as camper trailers, other sports, hobbies and vacations competing for discretionary dollars, said Tim Tinus, owner of Tinus Marine in Oconomowoc, Wis.

“Probably our biggest challenge is getting new people into boating,” Tinus said.

The marine industry is fighting back by promoting boating as a lifestyle, much like the recreational vehicle industry has done with camper trailers and motorhomes.

“For years, I have been preaching that boating is a tremendous family sport,” Kukuk said.

Getting people into classes would be helpful, but that’s been challenging.

Twenty-six years ago, Kukuk said, he had 55 people in a boating class. Now he’s lucky to get 15, and that’s after 1,200 emails and other efforts to advertise the class.

“It’s been dwindling and dwindling. I don’t understand it,” he said.

For the novice, a lack of personal instruction can ruin their first impression of boating.

“When we get a first-time buyer, we hold their hand until they’re comfortable taking the boat out alone. I take them out a couple of times,” Kukuk said.

Marine engine manufacturers Mercury Marine and Evinrude have introduced technology to make operating a boat easier and more appealing to beginners.

Mercury’s “Joystick Piloting” is like playing a video game, but with a powerful outboard engine.

“Docking a boat isn’t always easy, but with the joystick you can ease your way into a slip,” said Mercury spokesman Lee Gordon.

Mercury’s “Skyhook” is a virtual anchor that, with the push of a button, works with satellite coordinates to anchor a boat in a precise or difficult location.

First impressions of operating a boat matter.

“The best way to attract new boaters is to let them experience boating for themselves,” Gordon said.

Evinrude has a virtual boat dashboard that monitors engine functions from an iPad, and it has push-button automatic winterization for storing an engine during the offseason.

Canada-based BRP Inc. owns Evinrude and the Sea-Doo watercraft brand.

“Technology can help reduce barriers” in boating, said Olivier Pierini, director of global marketing and strategic planning for BRP’s marine propulsion systems.

“Getting people on the water, no matter the boat type, is the single most important thing we can do if we want more people to consider ownership,” Blackwell said. “Once they get on the water, the magic happens.”

The way that people purchase big-ticket items, like a boat, has changed.

Zach Waechter, a boater from Appleton, said he’s never bought a boat from a dealership.

Waechter paid $900 for a used 14-foot boat with a 25-horsepower engine. He spent a few hundred dollars on upgrades and later sold it for $2,000, using that money to buy his next boat.

“A lot of my friends who buy and sell boats never go to a dealership,” Waechter said.

Sixty-six percent of first-time boat buyers would only give dealerships their contact information during the sale, not a minute earlier, according to the study that surveyed 2,000 people.

They didn’t want to be called at home or pursued through email.

Still, 64% of people looking to purchase their first boat said they didn’t know enough about boat ownership to buy one.

Many said they were turned off by “hidden costs” such as docking and storage.

“They often don’t learn about expenses like registration fees and maintenance costs until the last minute. This erodes the trust they have with the dealer, but also makes them question boat ownership altogether,” the study noted.


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Naval Boat Back On Sale… At Six Times The Price

Asking price for L.E. Aisling surges after just six weeks

A naval vessel sold by the Government two months ago is back on the market – at six times the price.

The L.E. Aisling is now back on sale in the Netherlands, despite its new owners confirming that no extra work has been done on the vessel.

The boat now carries an asking price of well over €650,000 – after being sold for just €110,000 less than two months ago.

Industry experts say there are reasons why the original sale price would be slightly lower – but the discrepancy is now likely to lead to inquiries at the Public Accounts Committee.

The boat was decommissioned last summer, having been replaced by a newer class of vessel, after 36 years of service.

It was purchased by a Dutch shipbroker, who was the highest of only two bidders, at auction in Cork on March 23rd.

The agency now selling the boat, which is moored in Rotterdam, has now put a reserve price of $750,000 (around €680,000) on the vessel.

A sales agent told Today FM that there had been no refurbishment or reconditioning work carried out – meaning the vessel is, in effect, in exactly the same condition as it was when relinquished the Naval Service.

But he added: “There are a few buyers around already and [one] first inspection [has been] already held. I don’t expect this too last long on the market.”

He also explained that it was “not uncommon that vessels are bought for speculation” – and that an asking price is not always what a vessel sells for.

Extra costs associated with buying the boat

Auctioneer Dominic Daly, who oversaw the sale, said the Irish Government’s sales price would be lowered because the buyer would also have to cover the cost of transferring the vessel into civilian ownership.

While this process was pending, they would be forbidden from sailing the vessel off its own steam – and would have to tug it to its new Dutch home, which could cost anywhere between €50,000 and €100,000.

This would bring the overall costs of the purchase to around €200,000 – but the gap between that cost, and its new sales price, has caused concern.

PDFORRA, the association for members of the Defence Forces, says a much higher reserve price should have been set when the boat was auctioned.

Alan Farrell, a Fine Gael TD and member of the Public Accounts Committee, says his committee is likely to hear further scrutiny into the sale:


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Boat industry frets about fewer first-time buyers – USA Today

A rising tide lifts all boats, but some buyers are missing from the recreational marine market even with a surge in overall boat sales.

First-time boat buyers account for a third of all boat sales in the U.S. – but that’s down nearly 20% from 2005, according to a new study from the National Marine Manufacturers Association in Chicago.

“While the recreational boating industry has recovered from the recession, each year we are seeing fewer people enter boating for the first time,” said Carl Blackwell, president of the NMMA’s Grow Boating initiative.

“If we could convince just 2% more of the consumers, who are now dropping out, to purchase their first boat, it would make a significant difference in boat sales,” Blackwell said.

The study, based on 2015 data, profiled six types of first-time boat owners, including their interests and psychographic traits.

One type was called “gear guys.” They’re young men, and some women, motivated by hobbies with specialized equipment.

“The gear guys are intrigued by the tech and the specs. They crave details, so when they’re ready to buy a boat, they want to talk to the experts. For the gear guys, it’s not about being on the water. It’s about the boat,” the study noted. “They’ll drive a hard bargain. This isn’t their first rodeo. … They have experience buying big-ticket leisure items.”

Other types of first-time boat buyers, according to the study, include “water weekenders” who view boating as an event, “seclusion seekers” wanting a boat to explore nature and “luxurious leisurers” desiring a boat for social status.

Regardless of the profile, first-time buyers are getting scarce. That worries John Kukuk, vice chairman of the Wisconsin Marine Association and the owner of Nestegg Marine in Marinette, Wis.

“How do we capture the first-time buyer? That’s a tough question we are all trying to figure out,” Kukuk said.

For millennials, student debt is one of the obstacles to boat ownership, as often they’re strapped for cash and can’t afford big-ticket leisure items.

“That is a really tough situation. And we’re not getting enough youth coming up the ranks of boating,” Kukuk said.

There’s so much else, such as camper trailers, other sports, hobbies and vacations competing for discretionary dollars, said Tim Tinus, owner of Tinus Marine in Oconomowoc, Wis.

“Probably our biggest challenge is getting new people into boating,” Tinus said.

The marine industry is fighting back by promoting boating as a lifestyle, much like the recreational vehicle industry has done with camper trailers and motorhomes.

“For years, I have been preaching that boating is a tremendous family sport,” Kukuk said.

Getting people into classes would be helpful, but that’s been challenging.

Twenty-six years ago, Kukuk said, he had 55 people in a boating class. Now he’s lucky to get 15, and that’s after 1,200 emails and other efforts to advertise the class.

“It’s been dwindling and dwindling. I don’t understand it,” he said.

For the novice, a lack of personal instruction can ruin their first impression of boating.

“When we get a first-time buyer, we hold their hand until they’re comfortable taking the boat out alone. I take them out a couple of times,” Kukuk said.

Marine engine manufacturers Mercury Marine and Evinrude have introduced technology to make operating a boat easier and more appealing to beginners.

Mercury’s “Joystick Piloting” is like playing a video game, but with a powerful outboard engine.

“Docking a boat isn’t always easy, but with the joystick you can ease your way into a slip,” said Mercury spokesman Lee Gordon.

Mercury’s “Skyhook” is a virtual anchor that, with the push of a button, works with satellite coordinates to anchor a boat in a precise or difficult location.

First impressions of operating a boat matter.

“The best way to attract new boaters is to let them experience boating for themselves,” Gordon said.

Evinrude has a virtual boat dashboard that monitors engine functions from an iPad, and it has push-button automatic winterization for storing an engine during the offseason.

Canada-based BRP Inc. owns Evinrude and the Sea-Doo watercraft brand.

“Technology can help reduce barriers” in boating, said Olivier Pierini, director of global marketing and strategic planning for BRP’s marine propulsion systems.

“Getting people on the water, no matter the boat type, is the single most important thing we can do if we want more people to consider ownership,” Blackwell said. “Once they get on the water, the magic happens.”

The way that people purchase big-ticket items, like a boat, has changed.

Zach Waechter, a boater from Appleton, said he’s never bought a boat from a dealership.

Waechter paid $900 for a used 14-foot boat with a 25-horsepower engine. He spent a few hundred dollars on upgrades and later sold it for $2,000, using that money to buy his next boat.

“A lot of my friends who buy and sell boats never go to a dealership,” Waechter said.

Sixty-six percent of first-time boat buyers would only give dealerships their contact information during the sale, not a minute earlier, according to the study that surveyed 2,000 people.

They didn’t want to be called at home or pursued through email.

Still, 64% of people looking to purchase their first boat said they didn’t know enough about boat ownership to buy one.

Many said they were turned off by “hidden costs” such as docking and storage.

“They often don’t learn about expenses like registration fees and maintenance costs until the last minute. This erodes the trust they have with the dealer, but also makes them question boat ownership altogether,” the study noted.


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