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New Research Identifies Key Consumer Groups for RV Market

With deliveries of recreation vehicles (RV) from manufacturers to dealers roaring toward an all-time high, the North American RV industry is planning to accelerate its strong momentum by focusing its marketing efforts on three groups of consumers most likely to buy – Active Family Adventurers, Nature Lovers, and Kid-Free Adult Adventurers.Combined, this group of potential RVers represents 40% of U.S. households.

The three target groups were identified as part of a recent Go RVing Communications Planning Study conducted by Nielsen. The study provides new data about the demographics and psychographics of prospective and current RV buyers, and identifies effective marketing strategies for reaching both.

“This new consumer feedback provides a roadmap to our industry’s future,” said RVIA President Frank Hugelmeyer. “It helps us better understand consumer attitudes towards recreation vehicles and perceptions of the RV lifestyle so we can fine-tune our messages and outreach efforts and ultimately continue our favorable growth pattern.”

In general, the research showed that consumers in all three primary opportunity segments have favorable views towards RVs and the RV lifestyle. Just like RV owners, they like to take road trips and see RVing as a convenient way to explore the country, participate in outdoor activities and spend time with family and friends. Comfort, cost, and safety are the top factors considered by prospective purchasers.

Active Family Adventurers have children who significantly influence leisure trip decisions. They’re the most likely to have rented or owned an RV, to have visited an RV dealership, and to peruse RV and travel publications and websites. Of the three segments, this one contains the highest percentage of Gen Xers and African Americans.

Nature Lovers are likely to have tent camped or rented a cabin in the past two years. They enjoy visiting locations with natural beauty, seeking out lesser known destinations, and finding opportunities for outdoor sports and recreation. This group is younger, and uses travel-related apps on their smart phones or computers.

The study recommends that Go RVing reach out to Active Family Adventurers and Nature Lovers with family-friendly messages that convey how RVs offer a home away from home, unique freedoms and an easy way to escape and connect with nature. In addition, since the perceived expense of RV ownership is a key barrier, the study suggests focusing on long-term vacation savings.

Kid-Free Adult Adventurers relish trips that offer learning opportunities, romantic getaways, exploring lesser known destinations, visiting family, spending time in nature and attending sporting events. This segment has the second highest percentage of African Americans. For this group, the study recommends highlighting the freedom and convenience of RVing, including the ability to travel with pets, and focusing on entry level RV options with lower costs and features.

In terms of current RV owners, the study found that they love their RVs and the RV lifestyle. When asked about their overall RV experience with their RVs, 88% ranked it as good, very good or excellent, and the majority said that their expectations of RV ownership were either met or exceeded.

One-third of current owners are repeat buyers, with the conventional travel trailer being the most commonly owned type of RV among those surveyed. RV owners take an average of five trips per year in their RV, primarily to go camping at a variety of destinations.

While owners say that the most important part of RV travel is having an opportunity to enjoy nature, 75% say that it’s important to have internet connectivity while travelling by RV.

In terms of what RV owners look for when making an RV purchase, comfort and cost top the list of important factors. Since only 20% of RV buyers surveyed bought the same brand, there’s an opportunity for manufactures to build stronger brand equity.

An executive summary of the entire study can be found at here.

The research was conducted via an online survey among 2,523 owners and prospects. Of the 1,518 prospects, fully 1,304 said they would consider an RV purchase. Respondents were all U.S. residents, aged 18+. Non-owners were 18-70 and were additionally screened for a minimum household income of $40K. All non-owners were also screened to ensure that they had taken at least one overnight trip in the past year. Data was weighted to be representative of the population of interest. 

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