Editor’s Note: This article is a reminder to storage operators that knowing the customers is key to meeting needs. What works for one demographic may not be the most effective for another, so it may be time to do some research and sleuthing of your own!
The cliché stereotype of retired, snowbirding RVers is long over. Recent data from the IDS 2023 RV Industry Trends Report shines a light on some surprising changes in RV demographics amongst buyers.
The report’s findings are largely geared towards RV dealerships to help make them more aware of their buyers’ changing preferences and purchasing styles. As industry-focused as this data is, it paints an interesting picture of the current culture of RVing in the United States. Here’s what they found.
Buyers are getting younger and younger
Older individuals have historically been responsible for most RV purchases. Various factors were behind this, including the time freedom that comes with retirement age, as well as higher net worth. According to a survey done by RVIA however, the vast majority of RV purchasers are now millennials. The generational distribution breaks down as follows:
- Baby Boomers – 22%
- Gen X – 31%
- Millennials – 38%
- Other Generations – 9%
Additionally, the survey found that the average age of a new RV buyer was a ripe 33 years old–quite contrary to what the public perception of a typical RVer may be. There could be a variety of reasons for this, the first being affordability. As RV manufacturing has become more streamlined (some may argue lower quality, as well), prices have dropped substantially. Individuals can now purchase lightweight, smaller travel trailers for as low as $20,000. This makes RVing much more accessible to a younger demographic.
The onset of remote work, charioted in by the pandemic, could also be a driving factor. People no longer have to earn an income by staying in one physical location, making the open road of RVing alluring. This type of work typically involves younger individuals.
RV demographics are becoming increasingly racially diverse
Self-identified, non-white individuals and families are now 54% of new RV sales, according to the 2022 North American Camping Report. Overall, around 33% of the entire camper population is Black, Hispanic, Asian or another ethnicity.
More astounding, the interest in camping for the African American population has risen substantially. Data suggest that consumer demand has increased by 158%. On top of this, 1-in-3 Black campers plans to purchas an RV in the future.
First-time purchasers are driving the industry
Although influenced by the RV boom during the pandemic, the industry has seen a marked increase in first-time buyers–so much so that they now constitute most purchases. Interestingly, the IDS report also revealed that only 48% of buyers would be interested in purchasing the same brand again, suggesting that new consumers are not initially satisfied with the RV they bought.
RV buyers are changing, and dealers must adjust
This report makes one thing clear – RVing is becoming increasingly more accessible. The combination of affordability, work flexibility and newfound interest from minority communities suggest that the RV industry will likely continue to grow. Even in the face of a post-pandemic industry slowdown, dealers should expect new types of customers that have not been previously experienced.
As RV demographics change, the industry and dealers will need to begin altering their marketing approaches to accommodate this new wave of consumers.
Jeff Clemishaw is a writer/reporter for RVTravel.com.