People everywhere are gearing up for warm-weather adventures this summer or planning fall colors road trips. For many millennials, these activities may include packing up their RVs and hitting the road.
RV sales have been on an upswing in recent years, reflecting a strong economy and low unemployment rates. In 2017, RV manufacturers shipped out 441,961 units, according to the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association. That's up from the 375,950 units shipped in 2016.
Shipments started out strong in January 2018, too; 36,622 units were shipped in that month alone, compared to 28,931 shipping in January 2017.
While the RV industry has enjoyed renewed attention from consumers, one driving demographic has caught them by surprise: More millennials are entering the market.
A major theme among RV buyers is a desire to collect experiences rather than things. This is precisely what RVs offer consumers: the ability to take a road trip or go camping at a moment's notice. There's no need to reserve hotel rooms, find restaurants or dig out the tent from the garage. Consumers have everything they need ready in their RV, including a bedroom, kitchen and bathroom.
For people with young children, having an RV makes a camping trip much easier, Mic pointed out.
"We decided to get one because we used to camp and hike before we had kids and still wanted to do it with them," Michelle Tsai Podlahová, a mother of two, told Mic. "Camping is really difficult with little ones, but the RV allowed us to still be in nature, but with the added comfort of having our own bathroom, shower and being able to cook food."
Some consumers are taking their love of the road one mile further, swapping out a house or apartment for a home on wheels. RVs are considerably less expensive than houses, making life on the road an affordable option for young professionals, Mic reported.
However, money isn't the only reason people decide to ditch their stationary lifestyles and pursue one with more mobility. Living out of an RV allows consumers to explore new regions without feeling tied down. With easy access to the internet, people who live on the road can work from just about anywhere, CBS pointed out.
"[Millennials are] just getting into the workforce for the first time, an RV is a great way to travel and decide where you want to settle, save some money, because it is a very affordable lifestyle, and then set up your life from there," Jeff Runels, president of Keystone RV, told CBS.
There are a wide range of RV styles and sizes available to consumers, from tiny trailers to massive motorhomes. The most popular varieties on the market today are the conveniently sized trailers that can be pulled behind an SUV or truck, according to Forbes contributor Dale Buss.
"Smaller trailers and towables are actually the exploding market," Frank Hugelmeyer, president of the Recreational Vehicle Industry Association, told Buss. "You don't even need a [big] vehicle to pull an RV behind you, particularly if you have a young family or you've downsized. A Mini can even pull some RVs."
Auto dealerships have been enjoying an uptick in SUV and truck sales, Bloomberg reported, which only serves to benefit the growing RV market. These types of vehicles are generally well-equipped to hook up a trailer for towing, and close to 90 percent of RVs are towable.
Today's RV purchasers may start small and slowly upgrade. Mike Wendland, who documents his life on the road at RVLifestyleChannel.com, told Buss that he "sees great potential to hook millennials quickly, when they're young, and as they age and as their incomes grow, to upsell them."
"That's probably a pretty good strategy," he added.
As buyers experience firsthand the value of having an RV, and as their situations change and families grow, they may see a need for a larger vehicle or one with more capabilities. Perhaps a couple who buys a trailer for the adventure soon wants to move into their RV full time; they may require a slightly larger model for the transition.
Many young adults buying their first RVs turn to financing programs to help them make the purchase, according to Barron's. The cost of a new RV can range anywhere from $11,000 to $35,000, depending on the model and other factors, according to Camper Report. Using a financing plan spreads payments out over a period of time, making the purchase more wallet-friendly.
As more millennials enter the market, it's important that dealers are ready to handle the demand and answer any questions they have. One critical question shoppers often ask pertains to financing programs. To begin offering these plans to your customers, reach out to Aqua Finance.