The essence of an Airstream trailer is in its iconic “silver bullet” exterior, which shows off an aluminum shell that in turn proudly displays the rivets that help hold everything together.
But, according to a Forbes report, CEO Bob Wheeler is willing to experiment with new models that are lacking one or maybe even two of those trademark features if it means that he can make Airstream vehicles more appealing to the younger buyers who are going to have to keep the brand and the RV industry going in coming decades.
“We really have to bear down and understand how Airstream is going to be relevant for millennials and Generation Z in the coming years,” Wheeler told me, “and I’m not convinced it’s just a variant of our classic Airstream travel trailer.”
Wheeler has been working through this concern for years now, even amid the RV industry’s decade-long boom and particularly good times for Airstream and its upscale buyers. In fact, earlier this year, Airstream introduced a couple of new lines of smaller, less expensive trailers that are aimed largely at young consumers.
But these new lines still look like smaller Airstreams. Wheeler is talking about experimenting with changes to the basic Airstream proposition that might be more extreme.
“Our product is expensive, and it’s lightweight, but it’s not light enough for the needs of many millennials who are driving Subarus and crossover SUVs” that might not be powerful enough to haul an Airstream. “We can’t kid ourselves that we can just tweak the formula here and expect it to go on for the next generation. So we’re taking a deep dive to consider setting aside some of the things that we might have considered restraints in the past.”
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