ELKHART, Indiana (May 12, 2017) — Baby Boomers are no longer the focus of the RV industry. That was the word this week when 850 RV industry leaders met at the industry’s annual Power Breakfast.
Another year of unprecedented sales is expected in 2017, but leaders agreed that first the industry needs more employees, better and more timely customer service and housing for hires coming into the Elkhart area, where most of America’s recreational vehicles are manufactured.
Spurring the unprecedented growth of new RV sales are Generation X and Millennials, who, according to a KOA Campgrounds study, along with Generation Z, make up 72 percent of those who camp. About 34 percent are Gen X and 38 percent are Millennials, according to Mike Gast, vice president of communications for KOA.
Frank Hugelmeyer, president of the Recreation Vehicle Industry Association (RVIA), presented similar numbers. Eight out of 10 RV owners are under the age of 65 and 60 percent of RV purchases are by first-time buyers, he said.
“We are not the Boomer industry anymore,” he said.
I hate the fact that the large “Corporate” manufacturers are buying up the -family owned businesses, and the first words out of their mouths is “cut production costs”. Which means that a previously well built coach is now cheapened, and the customer who is relying on the manufacturers reputations now getting the short end of the stick.
They want to cut production costs but not the retail price….That sucks…
So based on their math the over 65 RV owners still account for 20% of the market. That’s a big share to ignore. And as others have posted we are the experienced RV’ers who buy the high end rigs. To appease the buyers they say they need to improve customer service (what an understatement)! No mention of working with campground owners to upgrade their properties. That’s just like the auto industry pumping out cars but there are neither decent roads nor enough parking.
But we Boomers are the industry bread and butter. We’re the ones who go to RV shows year after year, buy new rigs, and have the time and money to actually travel and use them much of the year. A piece of advice to the industry (including campgrounds): forget us at your peril.
Right on, Carl Jones & Tommy Molnar. I agree with both your comments. I would also like to add a couple of other points after reading the Goshen article in its entirety. One is that no matter which generation you belong to, most of us are looking for a dependable, high-quality product that will not break down because of shoddy work and that will provide us with many years of enjoyment and no headaches. The RV manufacturing industry needs to be regulated in the same way that the car industry is.
My second point is that as active baby boomers doing a lot of RVing, my husband and I would like to see bike and kayak racks on RVs, as well as more technology and environmentally-friendly features (i.e.solar panels and other such features). These are not only the domain of younger generations. I see many active baby boomers on the road. So come on, let’s forget about generation gaps and just build better products with features that are in line with the times we are in.
And I wonder what the long term prospects are for these buyers once they get their new rigs and find the shoddy manufacturing and poor quality components used. In general, the younger generation does not have the skill set to make self-repairs like the older generation of RV owners have. Thus they rely on the dealers (who generally suck at such repairs in both doing a repair correctly and in a timely manner). It will be interesting to see how many of the Generation X and Millennials actually stay with RV’ing or buy their first unit and then shortly thereafter get out of this lifestyle.
I looked up “Generation Z” because I’d never heard of them. A quick trip to Wikipedia told me there IS no set date or age for this group. Just some of the younger folks who have grown up in the computer, Facebook, Twitter, and whatever else you can have nowadays.
This whole sudden growth spurt in the RV industry is a bit scary to me. Kinda like the real estate boom of the 80’s (and what followed).