Bolstered by some encouraging demographics and the backing of DaimlerChrysler AG, Airstream Inc. is embarking on an aggressive new marketing campaign for its high-end Class B Westfalia motorhome.
“The program marks the first time in the last 25 years that Airstream has put together a national marketing campaign to launch new product,” said Tim Champ, director of marketing for the Jackson Center, Ohio builder.
The Westfalia, introduced in Airstream’s 2004 model year, represents a growing trend toward incorporating European product and design into the North American marketplace. Built on a Sprinter chassis, the Westfalia is manufactured and marketed in Germany by DaimlerChrysler and imported to the U.S. by its Dodge Division.
“We established an exclusive distribution agreement with DaimlerChrysler,” Champ explained. “It’s a very unique product and one that fits in with Airstream’s image as a premium brand.”
Because of Westfalia’s price point – units retail for $80,000 – Champ said the challenge was to first identify, then tailor a campaign for consumers that didn’t necessarily fit the demographics of Airstream’s traditional buyer.
“Our preliminary studies have shown that the target market we’re going after is made up of consumers who are family-oriented, active, spontaneous and have a loyalty to authentic brands,” he said. “That’s somewhat different than our traditional core customer, but we found that there are 20 million Americans who fit that demographic. For a niche player like Airstream, that’s a pretty big pond to go fishing in.”
According to Champ, two factors served as catalysts for the “multipronged” promotional campaign.
“Our International CCD travel trailers uncovered a whole new set of customers for Airstream,” Champ said, referring to the manufacturer’s high-design, aluminum-body towable line. “We were attracting a younger, more urban, design-influenced consumer. The success of the International CCD charted ground for a follow-up opportunity with the Westfalia.”
The key, however, came when DaimlerChrysler offered not only its blessing, but some initial funding for the project.
“Dodge and DaimlerChrysler put up the seed money,” Champ said. “Resources has always been the missing component when we’ve considered things like this in the past.”
Airstream enlisted two Minneapolis firms to spearhead the campaign. Champ said Mono will handle advertising while Fast Horse Inc. is overseeing public relations.
“It will be a mixed-media approach with print and electronic advertising programs,” he said. “Everything will be designed to drive consumers to our website, where we will have a lot of interactive features, like online games, to create a vision of the RV lifestyle and owning a Westfalia motorhome.”