Consumer Behavior Interview Analysis

977 words | 4 page(s)

After conducting my interviews with both consumers and the seller, marked similarities and differences were present regarding current trends in consumer behaviors of boat owners. The market for the purchase of boats is a rather narrow one, and as such, it was interesting to see what thoughts were on the purchase process and how the customer perceived that process. The three consumers interviewed were Ngondi Kamatuka, Carl Anthony, and Wendy Mohlis. The seller was Tricia Arends, the co-owner of Heartland Marine, a business that has been in operation since 1998, owned by a husband and wife team in Sumner, Iowa.

I interviewed Tricia Arends on November 2nd via email. She has been in the boat business for 45 years, but is in the process of retiring soon. For her, the best part of the business is to use the merchandise and to assist customers in finding the boat that works for them; her least favorite aspect is dealing with floor plans and taxes. The typical customer of Heartland Marine is between the ages of 20 and 70 and their most popular boats are for fishing or cruising. Approaches to sales are tailored to each customer, their interests, and the primary activities that they want to use the boat for; other considerations are whether there is a trade in involved and whether the person will need financing.

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Arends indicates that they need to do little marketing, and that customers will actively seek them out, in the store or at boat shows; they have a good idea of what they want already and where to find it. Most new customers are trusting and most have already done their research as to what exactly they feel will best suit them; to foster such a relationship, the Arends respond in kind with honesty and openness. Most sales are completed immediately, but some can take as long as six months to complete, depending on the type of sale being conducted. Clientele are split 50/50 between new and used boats as used boats are less expensive, but some want to purchase boats new for their associated warranties. Customers often find the honesty frustrating as they may not have been aware of additional costs, but the company is straight regarding where they are coming from and why they are present. The primary means of advice that Arends had for boat customers was to remain educated to ensure the best possible fit.

The information provided by the boat seller gave a good insight as to the types of answers that would be provided by consumers. All interviews with each of the three consumers were conducted via email over the course of a one week time period. Each individual indicated that he or she owned a boat and that he or she was willing to assist in answering questions for the purpose of completing this study; these were the only criteria for inclusion. Each of the different boat owners had owned a boat for more than a decade, though most have not owned their current boat for that duration. Two of the three individuals interviewed had prior experience with boats from when they were younger, while the third did not gain an interest in boats until he was an adult, stemming from his love of fishing. Each individual sort of “fell in” to owning their first boat. One had a boat sold to them by their neighbor as a child, another saw a local posting and thought it would be fun to look at the boat and ended up purchasing it, and the third knew owners of a boat dealership, went to look and ended up purchasing one because it was on sale. Each felt happy with the sale process as it was not rushed and as it was not something that they were expressly looking for at the time, it was a moment of pleasant enjoyment. All three interviewees indicate that they spend time with their friends on the boat, relaxing, fishing, or water skiing and find it a relaxing way to spend their time. Upkeep costs were not important, though for one the type of motor was a strong consideration, and each indicated that they found the right boat by happenstance. The primary feeling was one of freedom after purchasing their boats, knowing that they would not have to rely on others to take them out.

When asked about the advice that they would give to others purchasing a boat, one indicated that used boats should only be bought from owners, not dealers as the process was an emotional one, which can result in mark up on the part of a dealer while an individual will not do so out of the shared love of boats; another indicated that it was vital to ensure that the motor was in good condition; while the third indicated that test driving the boat was all important; if a person is not good at handling the boat or if the boat is not a good fit for that person, he or she will know in the test drive, allowing him or her to avoid a costly mistake.

Each of the boat owners interviewed were happy with their purchase, to one degree or another. The men were not concerned with upkeep costs, but Wendy’s happiness with the process was tainted with the knowledge of the obligation and the maintenance that would be necessary for her to enjoy the actual boating experience. While all were pleased with their boat and all had similar experiences in the boat buying process, the advice provided by the three different individuals was markedly different, indicating the different aspects that they felt were of importance. The advice of the two men was concerning the process of purchase itself, while the advice from the female was more concerned with additional underlying costs, serving to sum up the purchase process nicely.

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