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2012 RV Market Predictions

The attitude was upbeat at last month's RVIA National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Kentucky. The 67 RV manufacturers and 230 RV suppliers who displayed at the annual Recreation Vehicle Industry Association confab were optimistic about the future as the RV industry shrugs off the last lingering effects of the recession. Attendance may have been down 6.2% from last year, but the more than 8,000 show attendees were enthusiastic about growing consumer interest in RV travel and the RV lifestyle.

RVIA President Richard Coon told trade show attendees that the future looks bright. In 2011, U.S. RV ownership reached a new high of 8.9 million, up a million since 2005. Quoted in a RVIA press release, Coon predicted that the next decade will see strong long-term growth in the RV industry driven by steadily-increasing consumer demand from an increasingly diverse buyer population.

"RV ownership is at its highest peak ever, and future purchase intentions are strong," Coon said. "This illustrates the continued demand and enduring appeal of RV ownership."

According to the 2011 RVIA RV Consumer Demographic Profile prepared by Richard Curtin, an RV industry analyst and director of consumer surveys at the University of Michigan, 8.5% of U.S. households now have an RV parked in the driveway. In good news for RV dealers, 21% of all U.S. households plan to purchase an RV in the future. Of current RV owners, 70% said they expect to replace their existing rig with another RV and expressed a strong preference for purchasing a new, more energy-efficient RV when that day arrives. In addition, 14% of Americans who have never owned a recreational vehicle said they plan to purchase an RV in the future with a third indicating they would prefer to buy a new RV. Twenty-seven percent of former RV owners also indicated their intent to purchase an RV in the future with former owners under the age of 35 more likely to return to RVing than older former owners.

Rapidly increasing consumer interest in RV ownership is being driven largely by consumers between the ages of 35 and 54, the RV nation's fastest-growing consumer demographic. However, empty nesters from the Baby Boomer generation have also spurred a healthy increase in RV ownership. Among people over the age of 55, RV ownership increased to 9.3% in 2011.

Going forward, it is clear that RV dealerships will have to shift their marketing tactics to successfully attract RV buyers from an increasingly diverse and generally younger buyer pool. The key to attracting future RV buyers hasn't changed: You have to put your message or your product where buyers will see it. What is rapidly changing is the medium required to deliver the message. The preferred communication mode these days is both social and mobile. Facebook and Twitter are replacing email as today's preferred communication medium. Cell phones now outnumber land lines, but the expanded capabilities of smartphones are predicted to soon usher cell phones into oblivion.

RVT.com is already helping RV dealers position themselves to reap the benefits of social and mobile marketing. Advertising RV inventory on RVT.com allows RV dealers to take advantage of RVT.com's well-established presence on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites. RVT.com mobile apps make your dealership inventory accessible to on-the-go RV shoppers 24/7. And when you're ready to establish your own social media presence, RVT.com's experts can help you get off on the right foot with our new social engagement marketing services. To succeed in an ever-changing world, business owners know you have to embrace change. RVT.com is dedicated to helping RV dealers transition to and reap the rewards of new marketing platforms.

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