No Bull – Boat dealers must connect with millennials in 8 seconds


One way for boat dealers to engage younger buyers is to start them with kayaks and paddleboards. Photo:

Even as boat sales continue to recover from the recession, millennials don’t seem to be getting in on the action. Adding to the challenge is that millennials reportedly have a shorter attention span than a goldfish. The eight-second attention span announced by researchers last year in a Microsoft study was down from 12 seconds in 2000. In case you’re wondering, the attention span of a goldfish is nine seconds – don’t ask me how they determined that.

Boat buyers are getting older

According to Boating Industry Magazine, shifts in population numbers are affecting boat sales, as boat buyers continue to get older.

“Each year, the age of the average boat buyer is about six months older than the year before, according to analysis by Info-Link. Info-Link has tracked buyer registration data back to 1997 and in that time, the average buyer age has increased by about 8 years. Although the periods don’t line up perfectly, that’s much faster than the aging of general population from the 2000 to 2010 Census, where the average age increased only 1.9 years to 37.2 years old.” -Boating Industry Magazine

This data makes it clear that boat dealers must adapt their sales and marketing strategies to connect with this younger set. Clearly, reaching out in digital space is the key. Microsoft says the following four factors that impact their attention:

  • Volume of media consumption
  • Social media usage
  • Multi-screen behavior
  • Adoption of technology
millennial attention span dwindling

Microsoft says attention span of millennials is down to eight seconds. Image: Microsoft

In each of these categories, there was a direct correlation between the length of time spent and the ‘shortness’ of their attention span. This may not be a surprise to ANY parent, but it is interesting how much of a correlation there is in the data.

Five ways for boat dealers to connect with millennial boat buyers

So what can boat dealers do to increase their odds of connecting with younger boat buyers? Here are five keys to connect with millennial buyers in cyberspace:

  • Focus on mobile devices – ensure the website and ad placement is optimized for all devices.
  • Use multiple connection tools – like 24-hour managed chat and text, as well as rapid response to leads.
  • Engage and interact on social media – don’t just flood social channels with sales pitches, be accessible and personable.
  • Start buyers out with kayaks and paddleboards – to help create a passion for being on the water.
  • Ensure facility embraces diversity – avoid a lot full of older guys, especially if they’re smoking cigarettes.

It is possible for boat dealers to connect with millennial buyers. And now that a growing economy has more of that group shopping for watercraft, hopefully some of that spending power will translate to more boat sales.

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