Trends In RV Ownership, Part 2

Jun 19, 2019

In part one of Trends In RV Ownership, we examined data revealed in the release of the 2018 RV Industry Profile, as well as the diverse market of consumers and their impact on the future of the industry. Part two reveals the influence of younger buyers in the RV market and how their imprint is helping drive the most recent expansion of the RV market.

Data from Statistical Surveys, Inc. collected on RV retail registrations found that from 2015 – 2018, the share of RV ownership by age range increased in the younger age brackets. RV ownership for those aged 35-44 increased from 18.42 percent in 2015 to 20.75 percent in 2018. For those aged 25-34, it rose from 5.03 percent to 8.10 percent. Even the youngest age range of 18-24 saw a gain of 0.15 percent to 0.37 percent.

This strong interest in RV travel and camping among younger consumers is confirmed in Go RVing’s Future-Ready Research of Millennials, rolled out in summer 2018, showing that RV ownership has tremendous appeal among this cohort. The research reports found that among Millennials:

  • 53 percent are interested in buying an RV
  • 26 percent call themselves highly-likely RV buyers
  • More than half (55 percent) wish they had an RV

These strong purchase intentions correspond with a study Go RVing conducted with Nielsen in 2016 focusing on the demographics and psychographics of prospective RVers across age ranges and ethnicity. Among prospects surveyed, more than half have considered renting an RV. Further, 35 percent have actually looked into purchasing an RV; 38 percent have visited an RV dealer; and 15 percent have previously rented an RV.

Additionally, the Nielsen study grouped these prospects into three distinct groups of consumers most likely to buy an RV – Active Family Adventurers, Nature Lovers, and Kid-Free Adult Adventurers. Combined, this group of potential RVers represents 40 percent of U.S. households.

In general, the 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.

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. This group showed the highest likelihood of purchasing an RV with 29 percent saying it was very likely and 55 percent saying it was somewhat likely. Of the three segments, this one contains the highest percentage of Generation X 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. This group also expressed promising purchase intentions with 20 percent indicating they were very likely to buy an RV and 63 percent saying somewhat likely.

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 freedom and convenience of RVing, including the ability to travel with pets, and the variety of entry level RV options with lower costs and features are key benefits. Just over one-in-ten respondents (12 percent) in this group said it was very likely they would purchase, and RV and 63 percent indicated somewhat likely.

The RV market has historically been cyclical in nature but with a sizeable, potent mix of consumers spanning several generations who have an intense interest and preference for RV travel and camping, the industry is poised to rise to even higher levels in the very near term.