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UTV Market Is Growing, Yet Not a Priority to Some Franchised Dealers

The utility vehicle market is currently on the rise while motorcycles are declining in sales. However, some franchised dealerships don’t make it easy for the consumer to find a UTV, Fran O’Hagan, chief executive and founder of marketing solutions company Pied Piper, told Powersports Finance.

While conducting research for a study on the sales process of UTVs at franchised dealerships, Pied Piper found that despite the growth of the UTV market over the last 10 years, some OEMs do not make the off-road vehicles a priority of the business — causing consumers to have a rough time finding the vehicles at the dealership.

“For some of these players, UTVs are an afterthought,” O’Hagan said. “They aren’t their primary business and because of that, maybe they don’t give it as much attention as they otherwise deserve.”

Established brands have seen increases in the UTV segment. Polaris Industries Inc. reported that its off-road vehicle sales increased 17% in the 1Q18, but off-road vehicles/snowmobiles make up the OEMs largest segment.

Consumers who are already familiar with an established brand such as Polaris or Honda Motor Company, Ltd. won’t have much of a problem finding information. However, less well-known brands are more difficult to research, in part due to unreliable third-party sites.

“If I want to buy a full size pickup truck, I can figure out in 15 minutes that these are the players involved and these are their strengths and weaknesses,” O’Hara said. “There are third-party sites that focus on that. For UTVs, that’s just not the case at all.”

“Maybe you have a Cub Cadet lawn mower and somebody tells you that they sell UTVs also,” O’Hagan elaborated. “You say ‘Oh, that’s cool. I’ll type in Cub Cadet and the website will show dealers that supposedly have UTVs.’ The problem is, when you go to those dealers that are listed, the dealer will say to you ‘we don’t carry them.’ That’s just an example. It’s challenging to be a customer.”

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As Associate Editor of Powersports Finance, Matt Wood reports on the latest developments and trends of the powersports finance world, from innovation to new partnerships. He's also a movie/TV show buff and is willing to argue about Lost anytime. Former bylines include Scout Media and CinemaBlend.

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