I’ve got some good news and some bad news for longtime baby boomer RVers. The good news is that the “seniors” age group likely won’t be getting bombarded (as much) with ads and emails encouraging you to purchase a new RV. While RV manufacturers and dealers will still gladly take your money, those born between 1946 and 1964 are no longer the prime target market for RV makers and sellers.
The bad news is that Go RVing™, the multi-million-dollar, 25-year-old marketing program run by the RV Industry Association, is setting its well-funded sights squarely on the new generation of RV buyers, which numbers in the millions.
The average age of RV buyers is dropping… fast
A recent RV Industry Association study found that the average age of a new RV buyer has dropped rapidly, and now sits at around 33 years of age. When I was 33, my camping dream was getting out of my sagging canvas pup tent and upgrading to a fancy nylon four-person umbrella tent—and maybe a Coleman cooler with a drain.
So, just why is Go RVing’s fixation with younger RV buyers a bad thing? I guess it depends on your perspective. If you’re a longtime RVer who laments the extinction of the available walk-up RV site at the end of the travel day, you likely won’t applaud the manufacturers’ desire to push past sending out 600,000-plus new RVs this year.
The folks who oversee Go RVing are experts at selling the RV lifestyle. (Full disclosure: I had a seat on the Go RVing Board for about a dozen years through my role at Kampgrounds of America Inc.). As the Go RVing re-branders stated in a recent press release, “Our target market has changed over the years, so we have redefined Go RVing’s visual branding to create a timeless relevancy while embracing the energy and vibrancy that Go RVing represents.” You’ve got to admit, Go RVing knows how to sell the sizzle in the steak when it comes to promoting the RV lifestyle.
Go RVing’s rebranded campaign is selling more than just an RV…
During my time on the Go RVing board, I often got into friendly debates with the RV industry staff about what really “sold” the RV lifestyle. Me being a campground guy, I always pushed for reminding folks about the pleasures of the destination; the interaction with friends and family around the campfire; and the joy of sleeping in your own bed at the end of the camping day.
I mostly lost those arguments to the folks who valued all the points I made above, but often thought RVers were more enamored with driving their rigs and not just actually camping. I still think driving a 40-foot boxed behemoth down the highway is the least pleasurable part of the trip. Just give me a cold one and let me sigh with relief as I settle into a lawn chair after camp is set up.
A new logo
I suppose the new logo (at right) and slogan (Go On A Real Vacation) will resonate just fine with the millions of potential RVers who apparently are still willing to take out a 20-year RV loan on top of their looming college student loan debt. It took me a while to figure out that the new Go RVing logo represented a road stretching toward a far horizon. At first glance, I took it to be the head of a raccoon, or perhaps a rotund camper leaning forward on pointy legs flashing me the full moon (now just try to unsee that).
Although I was tied to marketing departments for more than half of my working career, I never seemed to be able to generate the personal excitement most marketing directors muster when they roll out a new logo. Yet I know that logos are an important part of a brand’s identity, and the new Go RVing symbol is simple, clean and conveys a singular idea. You may not think branding and logos matter much, but they do. That’s why you are bombarded by them every day.
Is Go RVing’s rebranded campaign overkill?
In the current post-pandemic climate that includes billions of dollars in factory order backlogs and long lines of buyers, it seems any expensive marketing campaign could be overkill. How hard do you have to try to sell an RV right now, anyway?
But the RV industry pros are a wise bunch. They know that the Go RVing campaign has served the industry very, very well for the past 25 years. Many of you were likely lured to the lifestyle by the messages and resources provided by Go RVing. They also know that the current buying frenzy won’t last forever and they’ll need a smart campaign like “Go On A Real Vacation” to compete against the cruise lines and European airlines when we reach a new normal in the travel business, whenever that will be.
Keeping the industry rolling with an infusion of new, knowledgable RV buyers is a good thing – really, it is. We’re feeling the pain of crowded campgrounds right now, but this high demand will bring investment and, eventually, more campsites.
I’d invite you to watch the video below that explains the new, Go RVing rebranded campaign program. It will give you an idea of the industry’s target market going forward, and you’ll get a good look at the folks you’ll be sharing your camping with “down the road.”