Consumer purchase decision timeframes and the strong value proposition RVs offer buyers are among the things that RVDA President Phil Ingrassia said dealer members should pay attention to in Go RVing’s new demographic study.
Released earlier this month, the 200-page study by Ipsos and Go RVing is the first comprehensive study on RV ownership demographics conducted since a 2011 University of Michigan study was released.
According to the study, RV ownership is at a record high, with 11.2 million households owning an RV in 2021. The ownership total is up 62 percent over 6.9 million households in 2001 and 26 percent higher than 8.9 million RV-owning households in 2011. The results prove RVing continues to attract a younger audience, with 51 percent of RV owners now under the age of 55.
“There is a lot of new information that dealers and other in the industry have access to – and some major changes from the last time a survey similar to this was done 10 years ago,” Ingrassia said. “Social media was in its infancy 10 years ago, and that has become a big piece of the puzzle.”
RVDA and RVIA members can access the full study here, which offers insights and perspectives on the ownership habits of 5,000 current, former and intending RV owners surveyed.
Ingrassia said he found the percentage of customers buying from RV dealerships interesting. Nearly 60 percent of all transactions are going through dealers, according to this study. Only 28 percent are buying used units through private sellers. “This report shows most current owners bought their unit new, which is a big change from previous studies that showed units purchased from the prior owner made up just over half of all RVs owned,” Ingrassia said.
Many consumers reported what Ingrassia considers a “healthy” perception of RV pricing, with 77 percent saying the cost was at or below the price they expected.
“That shows you, by and large, consumers are not sticker-shocked when they go into the dealership,” he said. “This is good for dealers and manufacturers and shows the industry is offering a strong value proposition to consumers.”
Another aspect of the study Ingrassia said “jumped out” to him was the amount of time consumers take before buying an RV.
“This is something dealers will likely take a look at closely,” Ingrassia said. “The buying timeframe varies by unit type, but overall, it is equally divided by those taking under three months and those making a decision in 90 days or more.
“The study reinforces the urgency on customer follow-up,” he said. “Some of the product types have a shorter lead time on the buying decision – for instance six out of 10 travel trailer buyers take three months or less to make the purchase.”
Overall, buyers are getting their information from a variety of sources, Ingrassia said. Forty-five percent of consumers reported visiting an RV dealership to learn more about a unit, while 33 percent reported visiting the dealership’s website. A total of 26 percent visited a retail show and 17 percent got information from social media.
“This study shows that engagement is not just online. There is still a lot of in-person interactions at shows and dealerships. To be successful, you have to do all of it,” Ingrassia said. “You need customer service in-person at the dealership and at shows, as well as a strong and responsive digital presence. It probably has not gotten easier as a marketer.”
When it comes to financing, Ingrassia noted there is “a lot to be gained” by acknowledging the differences within product categories. Folding camping trailers showed the highest amount of cash buyers, he said, with fewer people paying cash for travel trailers and truck campers.
“The study is a great way for the industry to benchmark their marketing communications efforts based on who they are targeting and what types of products they sell,” Ingrassia said.
“We will be sharing information regarding this study throughout the next several weeks and months,” he said. “This is a landmark study that we will be using quite a bit for 2021 and going into 2022.”