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Apr. 6, 2009 – Battle of the brands rolls on

April 6, 2009
Filed under Features

By Karin Gelschus
Associate Editor
While the majority of dealers said in a national survey their snowmobile customers are being loyal to their manufacturers, about 14 percent of the time riders are changing brands.
A good portion — about a third — of dealers say the percentage of people switching manufacturers has increased from previous years, according to the survey conducted for Powersports Business by Irwin Broh & Associates, a marketing research company based out of Des Plaines, Ill.
Snowmobilers looking for a higher-quality model seemed to be the norm at Tanana Adventure Sports in Delta Junction, Alaska. Owner Josh Lawhorne says the dealership’s customers changed brands about 25 percent of the time, and that’s about a 5 percent increase over recent years.
He has noticed most people riding Polaris or Ski-Doo in and around Delta Junction, but that number is growing particularly for Ski-Doo. “Ski-Doo has a really good product right now,” he noted. “A lot of it is technology.”
Among the group of dealerships that thought more people were changing manufacturers was Glen Koffler, general manager of Power Yamaha in Sublimity, Ore. “I noticed that a little bit,” he said referring to people switching brands. “It’s mostly with the Yamaha four-stroke stuff. Yamaha has a little better product with that, so we’re seeing more people switch over to it.”
Koffler added, however, “Keep in mind there are so few snowmobile sales that it’s not much of a good sampling.”
The snowmobile business at Outdoor Performance, Bridgewater, N.H., however, is having success. Owner David Dyer says the combination of coming off a successful year last year and good snow conditions this year resulted in their sales being up more than 30 percent.
Along with increased sales, Dyer says he noticed something peculiar – more riders switching manufacturers.
“We’re seeing more people flip flopping brands, which is kind of interesting the way the market is changing,” he said. “I think everybody has quite a bit out there to offer, so guys are trying different things. (In previous years) we had guys go to the Yamaha four-strokes for a while because they were the first ones with a four-stroke, but now they’re changing because everybody else has something.”
Riders are switching brands about 10 percent of the time at Outdoor Performance, according to the survey, and Dyer says that number seems to be increasing.

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