Boomers, boomers, boomers: It seems all everyone in the RV industry wants to talk about is the Baby Boom Generation and the huge source of potential customers it offers.
But the industry needs to study Generation X too because it appears they will react differently than boomers to the industry’s advertising and promotional efforts, according to Robert Wendover, managing director of the Center for Generational Studies. He spoke during the opening session of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA) annual meeting today (Sept. 15).
There is good reason for the RV industry to direct its marketing efforts toward the boomers because that generation includes a huge number of Americans, 77 million, who were born between 1946 and 1964, Wendover said.
Generation X is much smaller, about 50 million, but the oldest Gen Xers, those born in 1965, are approaching age 40, which means their prime RV-buying years are not all that far away. (The youngest Gen Xers were born in 1980.)
Wendover said research has shown Gen Xers “are innately suspicious of advertising” and they use the Internet to conduct product research “before entering the ‘store.’ ”
Additionally, Gen Xers “pride themselves on both working smarter and purchasing smarter” and “they would rather wait and buy quality once than buy junk twice, he said.
“To Xers, simplicity means practicality,” according to Wendover. “They look for straightforward information about product performance that anticipates their needs.
“Xers are passionate about controlling their time. They feel that life is too short not to have fun.”
Wendover said research about the potential for Gen Xers to buy RVs “may be out there, but I haven’t seen it.”
Anyone researching whether Gen Xers will buy RVs in significant numbers needs to ask, among other things: Why will they buy an RV instead of leasing one? For what purpose and how often would they use an RV? With the average RV being 12 years old, will Gen Xers buy older used units and what would be the impact on the industry if they do not? What impact will Gen Xers’ penchant for shorter vacations have on RV use?
The impact of Gen Xers’ expectations for campground quality and amenities also needs to be researched, Wendover said.