first time boat buyers report

Discover Boating, the public awareness effort managed by the National Marine Manufacturers Association (NMMA) on behalf of the North American recreational boating industry, commissioned a comprehensive study on first-time boat buyers in an effort to improve the industry’s pipeline of boat buyers.

Initial results of the study was shared at the 2016 IBEX Boatbuilders Exhibition and Conference revealing that there are 6 types of first-time boat buyers.

first time boat buyer typesBy identifying these categories of boat buyers, marine marketers and boat sales professionals can try to address the specific motivators or needs for each segment.

One could also argue that a boat buyer could conceivably be in more than one of these categories at the same time.

The 6 first-time boat buyer segments (in roughly equal shares) include:

Gear Guys

The Gear Guys are young men motivated by hobbies with specialized equipment. They 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.

Merry Mates

For Merry Mates, family is at the core of everything they do— especially their activities. When it comes to boating, Merry Mates rarely plan events, but they love going along for the ride. For them, boat ownership is the best way to connect as a family

Luxurious Leisurers

The Luxurious Leisurers are image -conscious and surround themselves with the finer things. They are always up for trying a new hobby or activity. For the Luxurious Leisurers, owning a boat is an achievement that gives them a boost in status.

Water Weekenders

Water Weekenders enjoy being by or on the water. While they love the water, they didn’t grow up boating. In their social circles, the Water Weekenders are the ones who plan outings on the boat. They’re into the boating basics: Tubing, cruising, fishing and water skiing. For them, owning a boat is driven by their desire to host friends and family

Seclusion Seekers

The Seclusion Seekers are nature lovers. Their daily life is stressful and full of obligations. Seclusion Seekers escape to the great outdoors through activities like hunting, hiking, camping or kayaking. For them, boating is about getting away from the daily grind and connecting with nature on the water.

Nautical Natives

For Nautical Natives, boating is in their DNA. Nautical Natives understand the appeal of boating and take joy in getting on the water. With lots of experience under their belt, they see themselves as boating experts. Their desire to own a boat is rooted in continuing a family legacy.

First-time Boat Buyer’s Journey to Purchase

journey purchase boats

The Discover Boating report also addresses the 5 stages boat buyers take during their journey to purchase. At each stage there are key barriers and opportunities to address these barriers to help move buyers along the progression to a sale. Discover Boating notes that 70% of first-time buyers take less than a year to move from “Desire” to “Do”.

Read Full Initial Report




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Diane is a marketer, avid boater and author of the award-winning book PR Tools to Toot Your Own Horn. In addition to being founder of MarineMarketingTools.com, Diane runs the small business site SBMarketingTools.com and the boating lifestyle sites BoaterLifeOnline.com and BoaterKids.com. Diane is also marketing director for SureShade, the new standard for shade on boats.

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