Winnebago President and CEO Mike Happe said although Winnebago is a portfolio of premium brands, the company is exploring 2024 model options to help dealers reach consumers who “may be more price sensitive.”
In reporting fiscal third-quarter financial results, Happe said part of the company’s business model is justifying the brand’s price gap between its premium products and lower-priced brands to dealers and consumers.
“There is always healthy tension as to what that step-up difference is between us and a competitive, less premium brand or product offering,” he said. “Our businesses today are still razor-focused on managing that premium gap.”
However, Happe said the company is eyeing consumers’ ability and willingness to pay premium prices now.
“All our brands are active in both promotional retail support as needed or adjusting product composition in the lower-priced parts of our model lineups to meet the affordability challenge,” he said. “Increased competition in Class B motorhomes and dealer consolidation trends are also factors we will continue to navigate.”
Happe said Winnebago will have new alternatives rolling out this fall to expand the brand’s reach to price-sensitive consumers.
“I think you will see some evidence of that and some announcements and displays of that in the coming months as our businesses continue forward with those plans,” he said. “I would imagine you will see some of that product at the Open House event in Elkhart in September.”
Winnebago dealers have nearly exhausted their 2022 model year RVs, Happe said. He said dealers have somewhere around 10% to 15% of total Winnebago inventory as 2022 model year RVs.
Because dealers have worked through so much 2022 model year inventory, and Winnebago has been cautious with shipping 2023 models, Happe said most of the de-stocking industry wide has been done.
“We believe we are closer to the end of the destocking phase in the RV industry today than we certainly are to the beginning,” he said. “Our hope is by the end of this calendar year, probably sometime in the late fall as we turn the calendar page into ’24 that dealer inventory in total, quantity and mix, will be in good shape as we begin the calendar 2024 year.”
Winnebago will likely see more downtime in manufacturing in the fiscal fourth quarter, running June through August, than it did last year, Happe said. Although several Winnebago brands have begun building 2024 models, he said those RVs have not yet shipped. He said 2024 shipments likely will begin in the fiscal fourth quarter.