New consumer research for the Go RVing Coalition says industry advertising should target three groups of prospects most likely to buy: families with children, weekend recreation and sports buffs, and outdoor escapists.
The Go RVing Communications Planning Study, conducted by Harris Interactive, updates a comparable 2001 study with new data about the demographics and psychographics of RV-buyer prospects and the best messages to reach them.
Members of the first segment, “The Family that Plays Together,” want to spend time bonding with their children and finding learning opportunities. Typically they are between the ages 35 and 49 with an average household income of $85,000. This group is likely to be receptive to messages emphasizing the convenience and flexibility of RVing with children.
The second segment, “The Get Up and Go Crowd,” finds RVs appealing for weekend outings with their “toys” – motorcycles, ATVs, boats, etc. Members of this category are enthusiastic about motor sports, sporting events and saving money on travel. Their average household income is $81,800, more than half of are between 35 and 49 years old, and the majority have no children. This segment is likely to respond to messages that connect RVs with motorized recreation and sporting events and emphasize the affordability of RV travel.
Members of the third category, “Nature Lovers,” enjoy the peace and quiet of scenic destinations off the beaten path. Respondents in this category rate camping in comfort, staying fit and strengthening relationships as important.
Of the prospect groups, Nature Lovers are the oldest with 35% between the ages of 50 and 64, and most affluent with an average household income of $93,600. Also, they are typically empty-nesters. They likely will appreciate the advantages of having a home on wheels in remote areas where lodgings and restaurants are hard to find.
Just over one-third in each segment are at least somewhat likely to consider purchasing an RV, according to the survey.
Qualified respondents for the Harris study included non-owners between ages 21 and 64 with annual incomes of at least $40,000 who considered themselves likely to purchase an RV in the next few years or have valid drivers’ licenses and made at least one overnight U.S., Canadian or Mexican trip in the past year. Harris Interactive conducted 1,275 online interviews in August 2004.
Key demographics of all RV prospects identified as more likely to buy in the study include:
* A strong majority are married (67%).
* Their average age is 42 years old.
* Forty-one percent have at least one child under age 18.
* Two-thirds are white/caucasian, while African-Americans and Hispanics represent 13% and 14% respectively, and Asian-Americans make up 5%.
The study’s other major findings include:
* Prospects named Go RVing.com as the third most popular source for RV information after newspaper articles and advice from friends.
* Among prospects who have investigated a purchase, 70% have visited an RV dealership or show, compared to just 44% of prospects in 2001.
* RV prospects considered avoiding travel hassles (84%), strengthening relationships (77%) and exploring lesser-known destinations (75%) very or somewhat important in planning pleasure trips.
* Sixty-one percent of prospects own either pickups, SUVs, minivans or conversion vans – vehicles that can be used to tow RVs.
* The majority of prospects agree RVs make travel convenient for any age or physical condition (63%) and make weekend getaways easier (61%).
* Cruises, owning vacation homes, and home entertainment remain serious competitors for the RV dollar.
* Cost is the biggest deterrent to purchase. Survey respondents believed RVs cost more than they actually do, primarily because prospects are envisioning motorhomes.
* Prospects’ perceptions of the expense and difficulty of RV operation, tasks involved in RV usage, and possible problems with storing/parking RVs rank as other barriers to purchase.
RV prospects and owners also share similar attitudes about traveling for pleasure.  “RV prospects and owners agree the most important factors when planning pleasure trips are escaping daily pressures, controlling budget and itinerary, and visiting beautiful outdoor places,” explained Lois Sumberg, senior vice president of research for Harris Interactive.
The Go RVing Communications Planning Study costs $80 for RVIA members and $90 for nonmembers. To order, send payment to Go RVing, Inc., c/o RVIA Publications, P.O. Box 2999, Reston, VA 20195.