Friday, June 2, 2023


New report reveals surprising characteristics of typical RV buyers

If you’ve shopped for an RV in the last 30 years or so, it’s quite possible you perused the RV Trader website. It’s a gigantic database with rigs for sale by both private and commercial sellers. No doubt the biggest chunk of the company’s revenue comes from RV dealers. With that in mind, RV Trader just released a new report on RV buyers, telling RV dealers how they can best pitch sales to potential customers. Inside that report are some interesting gems that RVers themselves would like to know.

To develop their report, RV Trader sifted through a lot of data. The company’s own user surveys were key, as well as data from Statistical Surveys Inc. That firm is a major number cruncher for sales information across a wide range of “sport” industries, including RVs. But perhaps the biggest source of data comes from RV Trader’s own number crunching, based on visits to its website—nearly 7 million visitors per month. There’s a whole lot of statistical gold to be mined from those visits. So how do you as a potential RV buyer show up in those stats?

Look out guys—the women are gaining on us

While the RV industry thinks it has a pulse on who potential customers are, the information developed by RV Trader might bring a bit more clarity. That’s because the industry is most interested in who RV buyers are in terms of selling NEW rigs. This report includes those interested in both new and USED rigs. So who’s who?

RV buyer

Interestingly, RVing is not just the province of the male of the species. “Today’s RV buyers have a growing female demographic. The female RV buyer audience has seen 10.6% growth since 2021, while male buyers have seen declining numbers,” says the report. Guys, let’s hope this is not a reflection on our mortality rates! Perhaps we can relax a little—this gender-buying statistic is based on only three types of RVs: “camping trailers” (“pop ups”), Class A’s, and travel trailers.

Age changes buying habits

Aging may impact what kind of RV buyer we are. The numbers seem to show that the older we get, the more “ease and comfort” we’re looking for. And this isn’t just in how soft the recliner is. Think in terms of breaking camp. When it’s time to move along, do you mind winding up stabilizers with a crank, lining up the hitch ball, and hooking up? Or would you rather just flip a switch, bring up the stabilizers electronically, and turn the key and go? RV buyer age seems to reflect that. Here’s the breakdown:

RV buyers ages 27 to 42 probably already own a travel trailer, and are looking to buy another one. But the 43- to 58-year-old cohort, while likely owning a travel trailer, is starting to think ease, with 19% eyeballing a Class A unit, and 34% still thinking in terms of another towable. Next up, the 59 to 77 “boomer” generation. They’re split, with a quarter of them owning a travel trailer, and 22% owning a Class A unit. But 28% are looking to buy a Class A unit. By the time the 78-and-olders are shopping, most already own a Class A rig and figure on sticking with the same.

Which age group comprises the biggest number of RV owners? Those 55 to 64 are the biggest, making up a little more than 26% of RV owners. Even so, the younger ones are the face of potential RV sales. Ages 18 to 54 make up 53.32% of owners, while the 55 and older who own RVs make up 46.68% of owners.

And the most popular types of RVs?

RV buyer Click to enlarge

Leaving age classes behind, what kind of rigs are RV buyers most interested in? It pretty much mirrors what RVers already own. Travel trailers are in the top search spot, with 140 million searches made on the RV Trader site in February. For that same month, here’s how searches for other types of rigs went: Class A, 85 million; Class C, 65 million; fifth-wheels, 54 million; and Class B rigs brought up the tail of motorized units, with 45 million search impressions.

How do you use your rig?

R & T De Maris photo

With their rigs in hand, how to RV buyers use them? A partial breakdown of the stats probably won’t surprise you. Road trips and vacations take up more than half of the use reported, with the numbers equally split by a little more than 26% each. But how about full-time RVers? Nearly 11% of RV users responding said they were full-timers! RVers working on the road, or working while on vacation, polled in at better than 4.5 percent.

Interestingly, among RV buyers, there were a tiny, but reportable couple of fractions. People who bought RVs to “flip” after renovating them showed up as a 0.37% number. Even fewer RV buyers were picking up RVs with the sole intention of renting them out—a microscopic 0.09%.

Shopping? A word to the wise

Finally, when it comes to RV buyers, it seems they know what they want—sort of. A huge majority—82%—know exactly what type of rig they want. But 48% are clueless when it comes to brand or manufacturer to shop for. RV Trader’s report is targeted at RV dealers. Here’s a quote of note: “TIP: Train your sales staff that customers can be sold on different brands of RVs so you can move certain RVs off your lot quicker.”

That’s great for the RV dealer, but a pretty poor proposition for the buyer. Here’s our TIP: Research brands and manufacturers for reliability and support. You may find yourself spending less time RV-less while you wait for the dealer to getting around to fixing the problems in a rig that they wanted to move off their lot quicker.



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1 month ago

Agree with RV Travel’s tip. By thoroughly researching manufacturers, including all the build techniques, materials used, insulation, warranty, factory service, dealer assessment programs, and quality/reputation and not just “bling” you will also be able to better assess dealers. You will know 100x more than the sales people you are talking to and be able to sort out the BSers vs those that really want to help you. Ask them questions you already know the answers to and see if what they say is correct. 🙂

Neal Davis
1 month ago

I agree with RV Travel’s advice to research dependability and support. I would add that this is a moving target requiring continuous research to the point of purchase and beyond. We bought our last (as in none after it) RV last summer, but I still research RVs against the possibility of circumstances changing sufficiently that we do buy another RV. Thankfully, RV Travel does much of the work for me; thank you!

Bob M
1 month ago

It would be nice if RV Traders site allowed you to filter out the RV you were looking for instead of pulling up all the RV’s the mfg makes.

Neal Davis
1 month ago
Reply to  Bob M

Rv Trader does have filters that can be applied to return only the particular make and model of interest. One can also constrain the model years returned. I think all this can be accomplished via their search feature of their application. If, instead, you use the RV Trader website, then you must use their “advanced search” feature available by selecting the three parallel horizontal lines in the upper right corner. Happy searching!

captain gort
1 month ago

I’m 73 and on our 3rd travel trailer in 10 years. Have made about 40 trips, coast to coast, to all of the borders. We’ve deeply pondered the idea of a motorized unit…class A or B. But it always comes down to the fact that the work is the SAME. You still need a vehicle to tour in without breaking camp…because touring in an RV is ponderous and restrictive. So, with a motorized unit, that means towing a car. And hooking that up is just as much work and inconvenience as a travel trailer. And none of the other stuff- hoses, leveling, cords, campsite gear- goes away in ANY case. Its easy to have my tow vehicle (TV) serviced and repaired anywhere, and its depreciation and resale is far lower than an RV. And I can use the TV for all kinds of non-RV duty around the house, unlike an RV. Lastly, the TT costs a LOT less. I can change the TT much more easily and still re-use my same TV. Perhaps its not as prestigious…but I’m way past worrying about THAT. But that’s just me.

Ron Yanuszewski
1 month ago
Reply to  captain gort

Exactly! Ever try a 40′ class A while pulling your TOAD, quick over nighters, State and national parks, changing areas every few days. Give me a 20′ trailer all day, Actually smaller is much better to get to the back country. I’ll not own a class A again, unless of course I’m still camping at 90.

Bob Walter
1 month ago

Looks like this data is based solely on the Covid period. Would like to see trends, not just a brief snapshot.

Tommy Molnar
1 month ago
Reply to  Bob Walter

I think you’ve got something there Bob.

1 month ago
Reply to  Bob Walter

No disagreement. However I recall reading 10-years ago investing in RV stocks was promising. And it appears it was and may still be. Although like all good things, once saturation is reached, it has taken the wind out of the industries sales (pun intended).

1 month ago

The quality of your RVing lifestyle is completely dependent on the amount of personal research you do before choosing the rig you hope will achieve that dream.

Neal Davis
1 month ago
Reply to  Ray

What Ray said x two. 🙂 😎

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