Home RV ShoppingDealerships From Gen X-ers to RV Dealers and Manufacturers – Are You Listening?

From Gen X-ers to RV Dealers and Manufacturers – Are You Listening?

by Sonya

Ever since we started RV shopping nearly 2 years ago, we noticed that the RV industry caters more to the boomers and retirees (who I call ‘traditionals’), versus Gen Xers. There is a growing group of non-traditionals who are hitting the road, and working remotely due to their ability to stay connected with better data / internet service. But dealers and manufacturers seem slow to embrace this new generation of RVers. A lot of the dealers we walked in to wrote us off before we even walked in the door. We are serious shoppers with money to spend!  I hope they listen… (I refer to Gen Xers as that is the demo group we fit within, but the same can be said for some Gen Yers as well). 


Speak our language: Gen Xers generally HATE using the phone. We are a little like millennials that way. So don’t call us. Just send us a text us or email us. That’s how we like to communicate. (And don’t email us asking us to call you… we won’t.)

Be open when shoppers are shopping: Here in Virginia, dealerships are not (typically) open on Sundays! Well, we work during the week, so weekends are the time we’re able to shop. Why not be open when your shoppers are shopping? Makes sense to me. (Note – we live in a market that has mostly small dealerships. The larger dealerships are hit or miss for being open on Sunday).

Ask us what we want and LISTEN. We (kind of) know what we want: We fell in like with a couple of RVs before we chose Boomer. But the dealers weren’t listening to our needs and providing solutions. The salesman who sold us Boomer listened and we ended up picking the perfect RV for our current needs.


Design for tomorrow. Please please please design units for Gen Xers. How many manufacturers are conducting market research with the new generation of RVers? My guess is none. Our needs are different. How ?

  1. No fancy fabrics! No patterns and fussy window coverings.
  2. Swooshes – get rid of them. Inside and OUT.
  3. Floor plans – consider ‘work space’ for full time remote workers.
  4. Power – we want to be able to stay wherever we want – boondocks or campground. Make sure we have power options for both.
  5. Gear heads – we like out gadgets! And need outlets everywhere.

Steal ideas. What is the latest trend in kitchens? Paint colors? Wallpaper/wall finishes? There are inspirations everywhere – just watch HGTV! White kitchen cabinets have been a trend for a few years, and it doesn’t look to be changing anytime soon. Neutral colors for the walls and fabrics that we can punch up with pillows and throws in colors we like. Great tile or laminate flooring vs. carpet. Ugh! So hard to keep clean. And we’ll bring our own rugs.

What’s in it for you?

Gen Xers live in the digital age. We are active with our own blogs, social media and websites. We are opinionated and happy to give reviews (good or bad). Most of all, we are LOYAL. We tell everyone we know when we really love a brand and can be pretty influential. (Note: I also know a lot of traditionals who are also very active online, just nowhere near as many as Gen Xers!).

I’m not suggesting you stop selling and building for traditionals. But how about a model or two built with us in mind? Dealers – visit a car or boat dealership and see how they sell to us. They are doing a better job (sorry!) than you are selling to us Gen Xers.

Final note – I am sure not all Gen Xers are like us, and not all dealers are bad at selling to Gen Xers, but this has been our general experience so far. The Wynns posted a great video about this topic as well: Resurrecting Dinosaurs.

What do you think? We would love to hear your experience and thoughts on this!

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Dennis Keppner February 15, 2016 - 3:40 pm

I believe you needed to consider the demographics of where you are in your equation. Let’s face it, you were in an area where the snowbird lives, or at the least comes through often and the other catch is weekenders. Dealers are just like fishermen, they are going to put out the bait that attracts the most fish.

Instead of the hard coded floor plans we usually encounter, open or modular would be a great selling point if the manufacturers could swing it (I personally detest the dining booth concept). Wholeheartedly agree with giving options – I’m with the Wynns – motorhomes should have solar as an option and have some pre-wiring done on the base models.

Sonya February 15, 2016 - 4:56 pm

Hi Dennis – I like your point about a modular floor plan. Now that’s a concept. On solar , my thoughts are pre-wired for solar should be standard, with install of solar as optional.
I hope the experience at dealerships outside our market is better. Perhaps we need to make a weekend trip to visit a few others. Thanks for reading and commenting. We appreciate it!

Christie Scott (Spot the Scotts) February 15, 2016 - 9:09 pm

FANTASTIC writeup! Couldn’t have said it better myself. Shared it on our Facebook page. Thanks for writing this! Now if only they’ll listen….. lol

Sonya February 15, 2016 - 9:43 pm

Thanks Christie and thanks for sharing!

The uRamblers February 15, 2016 - 11:43 pm

GREAT article! We totally shared on Facebook! Personally, we would really like to see solar and composting toilets as an option. Cheers!

Sonya February 16, 2016 - 1:06 am

Thank you and thanks so much for sharing!!! Yes – solar for sure. I’m all about composting, but haven’t quite convinced the HB yet 😉

Patricia March 13, 2016 - 1:27 pm

Yes! That would be great. I know Airstream has a solar package the composting option would be great.

Scott February 16, 2016 - 12:09 am

Spot on! Hope both dealers and manufacturers listen. If they don’t they’ll be out of business in a few years. It’s only a matter of time before the older folks aren’t buying anymore.

Sonya February 16, 2016 - 1:05 am

Thanks Scott. Absolutely – and the easier it continues to be for us to work remotely from the road, the more demand there will be!

Juliet Whitfield February 16, 2016 - 3:29 am

Great article. While I’m a young boomer and working, I totally agree with everything you said. One of these RV companies should step up and design rigs for full timers. It’s frustrating looking at new RV’s that are made out of totally cheap materials. I would add, NO dinettes and more counter space for gods sake, we cook! These rigs are our homes!

Sonya February 21, 2016 - 7:38 pm

Thanks Juliet! Yes – we agree… more counter space! RVers unite! 🙂 Lets hope it is soon – mama needs a new RV.

Tangela May 14, 2017 - 11:05 am

Too many coniplmemts too little space, thanks!

Katie (@nomadic_addict) February 20, 2016 - 9:06 pm

I agree and am glad someone out there shares my disdain for current interior design choices for RVS. YUCK!!
I am a full time gene RV’ER and I fully support this post!

Sonya February 21, 2016 - 7:38 pm

Thanks Katie! We appreciate you reading our blog!

Kimberly Saunders February 26, 2016 - 10:17 pm

Great post – we absolutely agree! We’ve been hesitant to share our thoughts on this because we don’t want to pick on any companies, or criticize their choices, but I just don’t understand how RV manufacturers can’t see the writing on the wall. The company that the Wynns worked with wasted a golden opportunity to get ahead of the game with two of the best ambassadors for nontraditional RVing that anyone could ask for. We ended up buying an Airstream, mostly for its potential longevity and aerodynamics, but also because of its interior design. As creatives ourselves, our environment is very important to us, so we just couldn’t live in a space that looks like someone’s great grandmother (mine) went crazy with a low end department store card. I love my mother, my grandmother, and my great grandmother, but country craft crap interiors make my skin crawl. And no, carpeting and RVs DO NOT SHOULD NOT go together. Ever. And RV exteriors – I’m with you, they just scream to me that the early 1980’s should be on the phone like yesterday asking for its swooshes back. And just in general, the build quality on some of them is so poor. Planned obsolescence? So, we went with an Airstream, because we didn’t feel like we had much choice in the matter. And while I love our little silver potato, it has its drawbacks (high price points, cheap appliances, no dedicated interior workspace, a smallish company factory with no dedicated quality control.) I understand that choice raises cost, but I find it hard to believe that the larger manufacturers can’t justify incorporating at least one or two modern models at reasonable prices. I suspect that most of them won’t change until they have to, when there are no more boomers to sell to. If only we could all create custom RVs from an a la carte menu without breaking the bank.

Sonya February 28, 2016 - 4:33 pm

Thanks for your response. Couldn’t agree with you more. I love the aesthetics and design of Airstream, but we don’t want to tow 🙁 We are looking at the upper end of normal Class A’s – Tiffin and Newmar – as they tend to be built with a higher quality of products. But they’re so slow at evolving with design! I’ve thought about creating a survey of some kind to have folks on facebook groups respond to so the manufacturers can see the level of support behind redesign. But am not confident they’ll listen. Our ideal is to create our own design to hand to a manufacturer – and say ‘build it’! 🙂

John Rosd March 12, 2016 - 11:02 pm

Love all your comments as a baby boomer who lives downunder I can assure you that the majority of us oldies down under here have most of the things Sonya is talking about. Although the biggest market here is in caravans, there is a growing maket for motorhomes/buses and 5th wheelers.
The US made 5th wheelers are regarded as too ‘fancy’ and over the top in their fitout although extremely cheap, chandeliers and heavy upholstery are unnecessary.
There is a larger market for smaller 5th wheelers that can be towed by 3l dual cab pick ups (utes) as well as smaller C class motorhomes
Solar is just about mandatory on all RVs down here and is usually installed pre purchase. I realise this information isn’t much help to you guys but it does show that the industry can respond to market demand when sales count.

Sarah April 3, 2016 - 11:56 am

So much yes! I went to an RV show yesterday with my stepmom and dad. We saw a used RV that might have worked for me except that the aesthetics were so fussy. I would never survive surrounded by gold-patterned fabrics and ornate cabinets. But especially when you’re trying to buy used, it’s really hard to find anything that looks good. We did see a Winnebago Era that is probably way too small, but the clean line of cabinets made me want to put my deposit down immediately. Forget room to breathe if I can just have simple!

Sonya April 3, 2016 - 11:08 pm

Totally agree! I love the simple design aesthetic of an airstream, but need a little more space. Winnebago does a pretty decent job as well. Everyone else? Ugh! Happy hunting and let us know what you end up buying! 🙂

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