Dominion Marine Media study shows growth in new boat market

NORFOLK, Va. – Dominion Marine Media (DMM), the division of Dominion Enterprises that operates YachtWorld, Boat Trader, and Cosas De Barcos, has announced the findings from its in-depth analysis of U.S. data across three of its sites. The data revealed the growing trend of customers buying new boats rather than pre-owned boats over the past three years.

InfoLink Technologies, Inc., a respected research firm in the marine industry, 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. It discovered that DMM communicated directly by telephone or email with around 13% of all new boat buyers. The study also revealed that in almost 300,000 transactions in the U.S., people requested information from one or more of DMM’s portals, representing a conversion rate of 12.4%.

Strikingly, around 28% of DMM leads were new boat purchases compared to 72% pre-owned. This is greatly ahead of the 2013 average for the total boat market of 18% new versus 82% pre-owned, suggesting that DMM’s website leads point to a significantly higher propensity to purchase new boats.

“Though portals such as Boat Trader and YachtWorld have been known as predominantly pre-owned boat marketplaces, it is encouraging to see that consumers are using them more frequently to find new boats,” commented Ian Atkins, president of DMM. “We feel that by supporting an increasingly healthy used boat market, our portals are contributing to the growth in the new boat market resulting from the general buoyancy in the sector. Across the wider market, new boat sales are now approaching double what they were in the depths of the downturn in 2010, and are returning to the pre-recession levels seen in 2004-05.”

The trend toward buying new boats was even stronger among market segments that are recovering more quickly. An example is the pontoon segment where around 46% of boats purchased through DMM leads were new compared to 54% pre-owned.

There was some variation across DMM’s marine portals, with showing the strongest new versus used split of 33% vs 67%, and Boat Trader only slightly behind with a split of 29% versus 71%. YachtWorld showed a lower split of 20% versus 80% that, while still above the industry average, reflects its expansive volume of sales in the brokered boat segments, which are more likely to be pre-owned.

Courtney Chalmers, vice president of marketing for DMM, remarked: “After many months of analyzing this data, we are pleased to share our initial findings with the market. Of course, we’re encouraged by the figures on DMM’s own lead conversion rate, but more importantly the data on new versus used boat purchases gives a strong insight into customer behavior in the marine sector as a whole. The data shows that consumers may start their search for used boats but ultimately purchase new, underlining the importance for dealers and OEMs of capturing this audience quickly and effectively.”

Peter Houseworth, director of client services at Info-Link, noted, “These results illustrate the fact that the DMM websites are an important focal point for consumers who are gathering information and actively considering a boat purchase. What was surprising is that consumers visiting DMM sites are far more likely to buy new or later model-year boats when compared to the general market, suggesting that DMM is attracting a significant number of prospective buyers looking for newer boats.”

Dominion Marine Media and Info-Link will be publishing further results and insights from the analysis in the coming months.

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