Identifying the typical UTV buyer and ways to market to them – April 3, 2006

Besides some common generalities about the average UTV consumer, there are few specific, agreed-upon demographics and marketing approaches to the buyer of the increasingly popular vehicle.
Is the UTV buyer a different consumer than the average powersports vehicle buyer? And if so, do dealers and manufacturers have to market to that segment differently? Or are typical UTV buyers merely showroom converts, looking first at ATVs, but then opting for the side-by-side? Or perhaps they’re aging ATV riders progressing to the next ride — one with perhaps slightly less performance but more utility?
The answers to those questions could be yes or no, depending on what’s being displayed on your showroom floor.
What is mostly agreed upon is UTV buyers have a higher income than ATV buyers. How much depends on the manufacturer and its product. Arctic Cat rates its typical Prowler buyer as having an average annual income of $100,000-$115,000. Kawasaki, with its utility-focused Mule, has its typical UTV consumer income closer to $80,000.
George Vetesnik, Jr., of Vetesnik Power Sports, Richland Center, Wis., believes the UTV consumer is largely the same person as the potential ATV buyer, and in many cases has previously owned an ATV.
Another dealership owner, Donald Smith of Searcy Yamaha Suzuki Kawasaki, Searcy, Ark., sees it differently, believing a healthy amount of UTV buyers have never considered buying an ATV and are newcomers to the powersports industry.
John Tranby, a communication manager for Arctic Cat, has another perspective. He said Arctic Cat has noticed many UTV consumers are showroom converts, coming into the dealership for an ATV but leaving with a utility vehicle.
Again, what product is on display — whether it’s the more recreational-oriented Rhino or the more utility-oriented Mule — plays a key role in the end result.
How the manufacturer perceives its product, as more recreational- or utility-oriented, also plays a key role in marketing.
Some of Kawasaki’s UTV advertising goes outside traditional powersports circles, including publications for hobby farmers and property owners to name two, said Russ Brenan, a media supervisor for Kawasaki.
Yamaha’s Travis Hollins, ATV and side-by-side product planning manager, said there’s a lot of overlapping in the company’s ATV and side-by-side marketing.
“Rhino is definitely going for the outdoorsman, off-road recreational” rider, Hollins said, noting that that’s the same crowd as ATV riders.
Searcy’s Smith sees enough of a gap between ATV and UTV buyers that everyday he has his employees park a number of UTVs outside, where passersby can see them as they’re driving by on the interstate. This daily shuffling of vehicles is geared toward reaching the consumer that would not normally consider shopping at a powersports dealership.
What all parties will no doubt agree to is the growing market for UTVs. One estimation previously published in Powersports Business had 2004 UTV sales climbing 45 percent over 2003 numbers. psb

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