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Industry report reveals RV demographics are changing

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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 of 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 was 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 suggests that consumer demand has increased by 158%. On top of this, 1 in 3 Black campers is planning on purchasing 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.

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Phil
16 days ago

Captain gort is right on. RV parks in Arizona are at capacity year around now. Rent for a traditional home is around $2K so where do younger people go?

Big Bill
17 days ago

I am 80 now. Wife is 67. Lucky me! We have been together since 1979! Used to tent camp in our younger days. Lots of rvs over the years. Currently own a new class A and a 2007 class B. Been all over the lower 48 and still healthy . I am still seeing mostly upper middle age and older but quite a few young families with kids in the summer months. We avoid the big name national parks in the summer vacation months, just too overcrowded.

Uncle Swags
23 days ago

Not sure I see this shift while traveling and camping across the country. One reason more younger people may be buying than older people is we all have our RVs and don’t need another. But then again the purpose of most industry sponsored studies is to create more demand by making something appear more popular than it is.

Big Bill
17 days ago
Reply to  Uncle Swags

I agree with you. Mostly see the young family types during summer vacation months. We avoid the rv parks that cater to the families with kids. They typically emphasize pools, games, play grounds, etc. and lots of little people zooming around on their bikes, etc. Happy for them but prefer peace and quiet!

Deadarmadillo
23 days ago

We stayed at a Texas RV park recently that had very few spaces for travelers that were staying for a short time. Interesting discussion with the manager about that. She said most of the long term residents had sold their homes at some point in the past with the idea of being full timers for a period of a few years. Now, many of them can’t sell their RV, nor can they afford to buy a house so they’re stuck as more or less permanent residents of the RV park.

Bwodom
23 days ago

Just curious…what did those statistics look like 40-50 years ago when we old folks were starting our camping adventures?

Big Bill
17 days ago
Reply to  Bwodom

50 years ago I had a Ford van and a LL Bean tent. We camped in remote locations and most of the big national parks. Back then you could hike back country trails in the big national parks and see only a few fellow hikers. Sadly most of the most popular national parks are overrun and nose to butt cheeks on the best trails. Just not the same.

bill
23 days ago

The pictures of the folks photogenically placed around the venerable campfire shows the whole problem. Even RV Travel is advancing something so dumb as building a fire on pristine grass with a few rocks strung around as a fire pit!

captain gort
24 days ago

RVs getting cheaper? Ha! That’s pure balderdash! The 2022 version of my 2018 RV now retails for almost 100% more than what I paid for it new. And that’s the case everywhere!
Methinks that the “surge’ in RV sales among the younger set is actually because these RVs are their PRIMARY residence, since conventional housing is now prohibitively costly for most.

Tim Buchanan
24 days ago

I wonder what the correlation is between millennials not having children and them buying more RVs?

George C
24 days ago

Something tells me this isn’t exactly “news”. Didn’t they start writing the “buyers are getting younger” line about 10-15 years ago? And has anyone really quantified the whole “#VanLife #WorkFromAnywhere” thing? We just returned to AZ after a 6-month RV trip and saw plenty of people living in campgrounds but few of them seemed to be these stylized “influencers”. Most were regular working people who happened to live there, chasing jobs or escaping high rents.

Les
24 days ago

Trying to locate the most recent survey of RVTravel readership age… anyone?

Admin
RV Staff(@rvstaff)
24 days ago
Reply to  Les

Hi, Les. Here’s a link to our poll in June regarding our readers’ ages, to which more than 3,300 folks responded: https://www.rvtravel.com/poll1056/ Have a great day. 😀 -Diane

Virginia
24 days ago

Bottom line: RVs are no longer primarily recreational. As jobs become more mobile, so will lodging choices. Although the term “mobile home parks” seems more appropriate than ever, the negative connotations may require a renaming. Then there are those looking for cheap housing: also a growing sector.
However, I am not surprised at the entry age of RVers. Many of us old codgers have been doing this for 30-40+ years. Which puts us at that same entry age. The difference? Many of us started out small, as we did with our sticks-n-bricks, then grew as our incomes and families grew.
This new generation does not have the patience for that. Their mantra “I want it all…now!” Is fully in play.
The question is, will they still be interested when they are white-haired like us? I suspect we will see the answer to that in a few short years.

Gary Bate
24 days ago

I agree on the need for a more modern approach to design and build quality of modern RV’s which are anything but. I think it’s time to get away from the rolling not so modern condo and think cleaner and more robust and simpler. Electrical and plumbing needs to be modernized. I feel like every rv is stuck in the 60’s. Build quality is crap especially for something that is going to be rolling down bumpy roads for thousands of miles. It’s no wonder the younger generation are drawn to sprinter vans and doing self builds. Sure there’s a niche for humongous glam 5th wheels that snowbirds are gonna call home for half the year. But many of us just like to camp, be outdoors and be mobile without worrying about dragging basically an aluminum oversized garden shed around the country. Different strokes for different folks. We run part time in our 2009 Winnebago View 24′. Seems like a good compromise for size, comfort and build quality. We’re in our young mid 60’s.

Bob M
24 days ago

When I was young and starting out a RV was the least of my thoughts. I was concerned with buying, affording and maintaining a house. Plus having reliable transportation to get to work.

bull
24 days ago

IF Younger buyers are the going to be the driving force in the RV industry that means cheaper and smaller RV’s will become the norm over the next decade as the young people of today are definitely NOT ABOUT BIG like the Boomers and other recent generations.

It’s going to be a fun and interesting ride!

Spike
24 days ago

“As RV manufacturing has become more streamlined…prices have dropped substantially. ”

WHAT??? Jeff must live on a different planet than the rest of us! RV prices have skyrocketed to insane levels! Just because one can buy a tiny tiny “RV” that is essentially only a rolling bed for $20k doesn’t mean prices are lower. Geez….bring on Johnny Robot. He makes more sense than this writer.

Last edited 24 days ago by Spike
Jesse Crouse
24 days ago

And everyone wonders why the the incidents of rude, not courteous and entitled behavior have increased. Look at the how the RV using membership has gotten younger. Rude, obnoxious and entitled. To this day I still hear my parents in my mind about how I should conduct my life. And at 74 it is with respect, common courtesey and ” What goes around; comes around.” Thanks Mom and Dad.

Last edited 24 days ago by RV Staff
Jane
24 days ago
Reply to  Jesse Crouse

Agree, whatever happened to ‘play nice with others”?

KellyR
23 days ago
Reply to  Jesse Crouse

We bought our first RV when we were in our 20s and I don’t think we were rude, obnoxious, and entitled. I have run into more rude obnoxious, entitled old people at Walgreens than younger ones when camping.

Cecilia
23 days ago
Reply to  Jesse Crouse

Hmmm. We have not run into any rude, obnoxious and entitled campers. Well, maybe twice
(up way too late drinking and yelling) but those were the exceptions.

Dave
24 days ago

There’s one RV dealer near us in a well populated area. So if you want to go see RVs…there aren’t many options. Not sure they really need to change their approach and they are super nice people already. I think the manufacturers need to listen first to adapt the styles and accessories based on different use cases for younger generations. It is rare to see updated styles. Remember when cars featured wood paneling inside since it appealed towards older people…that’s how I feel about every RV.

Jim Johnson
24 days ago
Reply to  Dave

From the perspective of a retired snowbird… I agree with Dave on one point. RV manufacturers need to rethink their products. But the issue won’t be ‘wood paneling’; but getting back to basics. In my experience, most millennials won’t spend the time needed during and between uses to keep an RV operational.

Reduce how much of the design goes toward ‘fancy decor and gizmos’ and concentrate on how do we make a more rugged unit that stands up to kids and requires less maintenance – without doubling the weight?

AND instead of adding another kitchen appliance, come up with a replacement to the now ancient waste holding tank system that requires far less time & water to truly clean. Surely good engineering can come up with something better, yet still simple and cost effective that in the end requires more water and far more time than a residential toilet or kitchen sink to effectively clean?

Bob p
24 days ago
Reply to  Jim Johnson

And then there’s Camping World! Lol

Bob M
24 days ago
Reply to  Jim Johnson

Agree

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