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New RV industry ad campaign puts boomers on back burner

OPINION
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.”

 

##RVT1047

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Sharon Tagle
3 months ago

I am a 65-year old and retired. My husband and I have a 31-foot Class A and we’re always on the go. I watched the new ad and I LOVE it! People our age don’t just sit around the campfire anymore. The ad showed us and our friends dancing at music festivals and partying at gatherings. If you think this fresh new campaign is going to lose the “boomers,” maybe the Boomers need to have more fun.

Bud
3 months ago

This campaign seems to be targeting the crowds that we most complain about with loud activities, music and bright light/ TV’s blaring at all hours in so many of the campgrounds. What age demographic is most likely to have the disposable income needed to make this purchase unless we figure in the “forgive effort” for student loans and other financial burdens that the target population willingly signed on for at the time. Sounds grumpy, I know but just sayin”…

Keith
3 months ago

Whoever created that new logo must be a HUGE Kingsman comic/movie franchise fanatic as it’s nearly identical to that logo (see it here or google it: http://ih0.redbubble.net/image.120357663.0443/sticker,375×360.u1.png)

Warren Wood
3 months ago

I had no problems reserving campsites just now for Memorial day weekend. I guess it depends on where you are willing and wanting to camp. So far full campgrounds are just hype, but I have been planning ahead, as should we all.

Lucinda
4 months ago

We’ve had our Class C for 3 years, and we are putting it on the market this week. And this articles says 600,000 more new RVs are rolling out this year?? Good luck finding RV parks and state and National Parks(be sure to call ahead-sometimes 6 months in advance) and boondocking spots. RVs are a lot of work, you need to use them a lot to make worth having one, and they are expensive (if you have a loan, plates, insurance, maintenance and then paying high gas and other road expenses). I will miss some of it, but it’s not making sense for us anymore.

bwodom
4 months ago

Am I the only one who did a double take with the logo? In my mind, I was seeing an upgraded peace symbol!

When I look at the ads, I see us 30+ years ago. When our son was 12, we managed an RV park. Half were the seasonals — retired, gray haired folk. The weekenders were the party crowd (we were glad to see Monday come!)

When we first joined our Good Sam camping group, I recall the original founders withdrawing, one by one, to pursue other things — leaving us “young folks” to set the path. It is a part of the aging process…one door closes, another opens. I hope those senior members never felt pushed out; I like to think they were glad to have someone else to carry on the tradition.

Gary
4 months ago

Logo looks like a race car or motorcycle helmet and googles.

Ruben
4 months ago

Has there been a recent survey done on the age demographics of the readers of this website?

Jim Prideaux
4 months ago
Reply to  Ruben

I think mostly old folks.

Virginia
4 months ago
Reply to  Ruben

I would be interested in the demographics over the years — perhaps decade by decade? Or even some of the older commercials as a comparison.

Gary Ashmore
4 months ago

The city of Lincoln Nebraska recently created a new city flag.it is meaningless. Could be the same design firm that created the new camping logo. Do a Google search for their new flag. Have a good laugh.

Debbie
4 months ago

If they want to focus on younger people, fine. However, an ad like this that pretty much blatantly says that the older generation doesn’t count anymore and is somehow boring is a total insult to those who have been loyal to the industry over so many years. Yes, I’m insulted.

John Koenig
4 months ago

My guess re: the new logo: it looks like a picnic table in a dome tent. Maybe it makes more sense to the younger generations?

KellyR
4 months ago

Advertisers are not trying to sell to me because I have everything I will ever need.- except food and the gas to get to the store, shore, or camp grounds. Besides, When I see a commercial or ad I HAVE NO IDEA of what they are trying to sell. What are evidently car ads don’t even tell me a single thing about the car itself or even the name or manufacturer of the car. AND I know that that stupid little thing in no way can get to the top of a mountain or speed thru a city at 70 mph. However towing companies love seeing any kind of RV or vehicle trying to drive down a sandy beach when the tide is out. As to the icons / symbols used to advertise, they lost me.

Egwilly
4 months ago

This article and it’s noted changes to our RV lifestyle are why we are selling and getting out of it. Change is not always good for everyone.

Last edited 4 months ago by Egwilly
BILLY Bob Thronton
4 months ago

I hope they didn’t pay some millennial ad agency too much for the new logo, because clearly you got bamboozled.

John Koenig
4 months ago

I agree.

Robert Nelson
4 months ago

I had to laugh when I saw the truck pulling a trailer down a desert dirt road and wondered how far did he have to back up to get out of there and how loud was his wife screaming.

Cheryl Wardell
4 months ago

I’m sorry to hear this. I guess the younger crowd have more money than I thought, or are willing to go into more debt, school loans, house loan, maxed out credit cards.

BILLY Bob Thronton
4 months ago
Reply to  Cheryl Wardell

It will be short-lived. They never made a commitment in their lives, won’t start now.

Jeff Craig
4 months ago

Living near Seattle, we have plenty of local places we can go RV’ing at, and, yes, going on a two week (or longer) trip means we spend over ten hours a day behind the wheel. And the older we get, the harder it is to recover – especially when you have to drive 1500 miles to a NASCAR track. Another thing they fail to mention is that Mom doesn’t get a ‘real vacation’. My wife still has to do a lot of cooking and cleaning, (although I help her), and we try to visit restaurants we’ve seen on Food Network shows to limit her workload.

The advertising I have seen is aimed at ‘Yuppies’, with a nice upscale Class B/B+ or toy hauler trailer for the kids and their quads/Predator. That is probably because the area has lots of well-educated, high tech families/jobs in the Puget Sound, but also more ‘outdoorsy’ larger families on the east side of the Cascades. Driving up I-5, you see the dealerships now jammed with Diesel Pushers and Fifth Wheels, and Boeing retirees sure are browsing!

Larry
4 months ago

Loved your “now unsee this” characterization of the new logo. Only thing missing is the vertical smile!

Jim C
4 months ago

I believe the GoRVing braintrust knows/thinks that the new kids on the block are going to get the inheritance anyway, so they are targeting the newfound wealth. They think we are the over the hill gang. But I told my kids that “I have it planned that the last check is going to bounce, so keep working and save your $$ like we did”. :)) Enjoy life on the road.

BILLY Bob Thronton
4 months ago
Reply to  Jim C

It’s either the nursing home or your kids, in that order.

Roger Eide
4 months ago

I could easily see the new logo fading onto a picture of a straight stretch of road heading into the horizon. I also see the good and the bad as you do with the campground crowding that seem to only be getting worse. I(we) have been going to more primitive areas where we need a generator but are still finding those areas much less noisy and crowded.

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