Why do recreation shoppers inquire, rather than buy?

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AUSTIN, Texas — AVALA, a Rollick company, has released the results of its recent survey of 3,000 consumers engaged in the recreational product buying process.

These results are included in their recent whitepaper — “The Recreation Shopping Experience: Why Customers Buy and How to Ensure They Buy From You.”

Four major themes were explored in the survey. They include:

  • Brand consideration and switching
  • Dealer and OEM follow-up
  • Satisfaction drivers
  • Why people leave the market

Brand consideration and switching

According to the study, 81.2% of respondents seriously consider purchasing other brands, 43.1% of dealers suggested other brands, and 67.6% of respondents purchased the brand they originally inquired about.

“Somewhere along the purchase funnel, consumers are being persuaded to switch brands. We know that one reason for this is that the dealers’ goal is to sell the consumer the product that best fits the consumers’ needs, not necessarily the brand that sent the lead in the first place,” said spokesperson Jodi Holzband.

This hurts relationships between OEMs and dealers and dilutes the investment OEMs make in marketing, nurturing and branding, the she added.

Dealer and OEM follow-up

According to AVALA data, the average days to close from lead to purchase for 2017-2018 was 221 days in marine and 198 days in RV. This is a long purchase cycle and there are many nurture opportunities within that time span.

However, dealers and OEMs alike are only following up with consumers about once after the consumer made contact. Only 57.5% of dealers continue to follow up after their initial contact with a potential buyer.

Satisfaction drivers

The survey showed that consumers were mostly satisfied with their dealer experience in all areas except for price. Price is a challenging topic because it can change frequently, and because of customization, it is hard to assess exactly how much a recreation product will cost the consumer, the release explained.

However, the survey results surfaced that dealers do a better job at communicating an accurate price early in the relationship so that consumers walk into a dealership with reasonable expectations.

The Rollick solution, which not only provides accurate pricing, but also special savings to members of certain affinity groups, helps solve this problem, the release explained. Providing an accurate price instantly online helps the consumer build trust in the dealer and in the OEM. This trust creates brand and customer loyalty, it noted.

Areas where customers reported satisfaction included facility cleanliness, product knowledge, staff timeliness and communication, availability to answer questions, and product availability.

Why people leave the market

The survey found the number one reason consumers decide to no longer purchase a recreation item or to purchase a different brand is because of price. The second most common reason is because they found another brand that better met their needs.

“It’s the job of OEMs to create brand loyalty and ensure that dealers see that loyalty through when a consumer walks into a dealership to inquire about a specific brand,” said Holzband.

On a scale of 1 to 5, 5 being the highest, consumers reported that when purchasing in the recreation space, the experience ranked a 3.2 — about the same as their experience shopping in similar industries, like automotive. This still leaves plenty of room for improvement, said Holzband.

“OEMs and dealers should focus on end-to-end improvements to retain existing customers, bring in quality leads, and manage their reputations,” she added.

How to improve the purchase journey

“Optimizing consumer engagement with a brand is imperative to set yourself apart both within the industry and also as you compete with other industries,” said Holzband.

Some areas of focus that will move the needle in a business’ favor include:

  • Using data-driven insights to deliver highly personalized messaging and interactions
  • SEO strategies
  • Pricing clarity

How to improve the repurchase journey
According to a study by Paul W. Farris, the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70% while the probability of selling to a new prospect is 5-20%.

According to Bain and Company, returning customers spend an average of 67% more than first-time customers. Tips to keep customers coming back include:

  • Follow up with them
  • Thank them, provide them with great service and continue to grow the relationship
  • Provide meaningful content via email and social media
  • Use a post-purchase satisfaction survey, like AVALA’s CSI program

“There is opportunity to sell the same consumer multiple products, and the goal is to make sure it is your products they repurchase, which is a joint effort between the OEM and the dealers,” said Holzband. “In fact, our data indicates that if a consumer leaves a dealer because of dissatisfaction with their service, they may also leave the brand of the product they were originally interested in.”

Most recreation products are discretionary, or not a “need” product. Any friction the consumer may experience reduces the effectiveness of all the marketing dollars spent, the effectiveness of leads generated as well as the close rate, she explained.

“The OEM and the dealer do better when they focus on great customer service and working together,” she added.

To learn actionable ways a business can improve the dealership shopping experience, register for a special webinar presentation by Steve Pizzolato Feb. 27 at 11 a.m. Central time.

The Recreation Shopping Experience whitepaper is available for download at www.avalamarketing.com.

Greg Gerber

Greg Gerber

A journalist who has covered the recreation vehicle industry since January 2000, Greg Gerber founded RV Daily Report on April Fool's Day in 2009. He also serves as the editor of the publication and website. As an Eagle Scout, he has enjoyed camping for decades and has visited every state except Hawaii. A DODO -- Dad of Daughters Only -- to three young women, he has two grandchildren as well. He currently splits his time between Wisconsin, Texas and Arizona. Greg can be reached at editor@rvdailyreport.com.

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