By most metrics, the RV industry is on the rise. Curbed reported that since taking a hit during the financial crisis of 2008, RV manufacturers have seen sales increase and experts expect the industry as a whole to be worth about $75 billion by 2025. Those numbers are no doubt comforting to the three biggest companies in North America: Thor Industries, Forest River, and Winnebago. Love campers and trailers? Come join our new community group.
But change is afoot. If the RV industry wants to survive whatever economic twists and turns emerge over the next decade, they need to pay attention to one major group: millennials.
New data shows that millennials make up the largest group of campers at 41 percent and that share of the market is growing. By 2025, the number of consumers between the ages of 30 and 45 will total 72 million people.
The importance of millennial campers was the focus of this year’s newly revamped trade show, RVX. In his keynote speech, RV Industry Association (RVIA) President Frank Hugelmeyer said that more than 40 million people are potential RV owners, and he questioned whether the industry was doing enough to get new customers.
“The RV industry talks to all consumers in the same way,” Hugelmeyer said. “But the next generation of buyers are different,” Airstream President and CEO Bob Wheeler tells Curbed. “[For millennials] it’s not about the stuff you collect, it’s about experiences, travel, and who you meet.”
Bob Martin, CEO of Thor Industries, told Curbed that the company is seeing the age of consumers coming down drastically across its 17 brands. Thor isn’t selling strongly with millennials yet, Martin reported, but he believes that will happen over the next five years.
Wheeler sums it up well: “Innovate or die. Brands like Airstream could become irrelevant.”
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