Providing the most comprehensive and up-to-date information and analysis of the Recreational and Specialty Vehicles market, including the behaviours, preferences and habits of the consumer.

The COVID-19 pandemic brought about changes to consumers’ lifestyles (eg limited travel, social distancing) that greatly impacted the recreational and specialty vehicle industry, driving up consumer interest. This heightened interest will continue throughout 2021 as travel and general anxiety surrounding the virus remains. The challenge for some brands will be to keep up with the increased demand. For those that have the inventory, focusing on flexible ownership options, seamless shopping experiences and exploring partnerships can help brands maintain interest in the longer term.

Specialty and recreational vehicles saw a sales boom as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic due to halted air travel and general anxiety around the pandemic. Because these vehicles are a larger purchase, the increase in sales likely can be attributed to changes in year-over-year sales volumes. As the US enters its second summer with the virus, consumers’ heightened interest in specialty and recreational vehicles will continue because of lingering concerns surrounding travel and the pandemic overall.

While in-person expo shows have historically been a large component of the research and purchasing process, brands and expo shows alike have and will continue to need to pivot to introduce more key elements of ecommerce to meet consumers’ evolving shopping needs.

Read on to discover more details or take a look at all of our Automotive market research.

Quickly understand

  • The impact of COVID-19 on consumer behavior and the specialty and recreational vehicle market
  • Opportunities for specialty and recreational brands to generate interest via partnerships and collaborations
  • How short and long-term rentals can expose brands to new audiences and increase consideration

Covered in this report

Brands: Harley-Davidson, Sondors, Hemphill Brothers Coach Company, Taiga Motors, Airstream.

Expert analysis from a specialist in the field

Written by Hannah Keshishian, a leading analyst in the Automotive sector, her extensive knowledge delivers in-depth commentary and analysis to highlight current trends and add expert context to the numbers.

Lifestyle changes caused by the pandemic resulted in increased interest in recreational and specialty vehicles. As COVID-19 becomes less of a threat, brands look to continue to capitalize on the heightened demand. Barriers such as ownership costs, lifestyle compatibility and safety concerns will hinder widespread interest. Moving forward, the category will see improved production processes, flexible shopping options, more electric vehicles and cross-category partnerships all in an effort to drive interest and appeal among a wider range of consumers.

Hannah Keshishian
Automotive Analyst

Table of Contents

  1. Overview

    • What you need to know
    • This Report looks at the following areas
    • Definition
    • Economic and other assumptions
    • COVID-19: US context
  2. Executive Summary

    • Top takeaways
    • Impact of COVID-19 on specialty and recreational vehicles
      • Figure 1: Short-, medium- and long-term impact of COVID-19 on specialty and recreational vehicles, May 2021
    • Opportunities and challenges
    • Leverage experiences and events to drive category engagement
    • Partnerships and collaborations can help generate exposure and appeal
    • Electric offerings can introduce excitement and innovation to the segment
    • Rental opportunities can circumnavigate purchase barriers
  3. The Market – Key Takeaways

    • With rising gas prices, more EV options will be needed
    • Partnerships can help expose brands to new consumers
    • Consumer-sharing programs can assist with purchase barriers
  4. Market Factors

    • Impact of COVID-19 on recreational and specialty vehicles
    • Increased unemployment and low consumer confidence impact consumers’ ability, and willingness, to enter the category
      • Figure 2: Consumer confidence and unemployment, 2000-April 2021
    • Rising gas prices could pose a threat to RVs, boats
      • Figure 3: US gasoline and diesel retail prices, January 2007- April 2021
  5. Shifts in Advertising Approach

    • The pandemic caused shifts in ad spending and approach across the category
      • Figure 4: Monthly digital marketing and paid social spending, select recreational and specialty vehicle brands, January 2019-May 2021
  6. Companies and Brands – Key Takeaways

    • Electric motorcycles are the next big thing for the segment
    • RV companies pivot to introduce new travel packages during the pandemic
    • Cleveland boat show goes mostly virtual for this year’s events
  7. Competitive Strategies

    • Engines are revved for new EV motorcycles
    • Sondors: Metacycle
      • Figure 5: Sondors’ Metacycle offers affordable, sustainable transportation
    • Arc Vehicle: Vector
      • Figure 6: Arc Vehicle targets luxury consumers
    • Harley-Davidson: LiveWire
      • Figure 7: Harley-Davidson expands target audience with EV motorcycles
    • How one RV company pivoted during the pandemic to let consumers travel like a rock star
      • Figure 8: Hemphill Brothers Coach Company offers custom coaches for personal travel
    • Cleveland Boat Show pivoted to offer omnichannel shopping experience
      • Figure 9: Cleveland Boat Show offers virtual events
  8. Market Opportunities

    • Electric specialty and recreational vehicles are the future of leisure
      • Figure 10: Taiga Motors offers electric recreational vehicles
    • Remote working and changes to commute preferences open doors for new opportunities
      • Figure 11: Triumph Motorcycles as commuter option
    • Specialty and recreational vehicle brands should explore consumer-sharing opportunities
      • Figure 12: Outdoorsy offers peer-to-peer RV rentals
    • Partnerships can open the doors to new audiences
      • Figure 13: Airstream x Pottery Barn partnership
  9. The Consumer – Key Takeaways

    • Current ownership levels are divided by gender and age
    • Urban and young consumers are driving interest in the segment
    • Females are an under-tapped market for motorcycles
    • Seamless shopping experiences cater to all ages research needs
    • Consumers seek specialty/recreational vehicles for fun and adventure
  10. Specialty and Recreational Vehicle Ownership

    • Specialty and recreational vehicle ownership remains niche, has opportunities to expand
      • Figure 14: Specialty and recreational vehicle ownership, March 2021
    • Younger male ownership dominates the segment, but there’s room to grow
      • Figure 15: Sea-Doo targets multiple consumer groups
      • Figure 16: Specialty and recreational vehicle ownership, by gender, by age, March 2021
  11. Specialty and Recreational Vehicle Consideration

    • Look to build upon interest in owning and renting specialty/recreational vehicles
      • Figure 17: Specialty and recreational vehicle purchase and rental consideration, March 2021
      • Figure 18: RVshare highlights customer review and renting benefits
    • Purchase and rental consideration is driven by young consumers
      • Figure 19: Specialty and recreational vehicle purchase and rental consideration, by age, March 2021
    • Hosting experiential events can help reach interested urban consumers
      • Figure 20: Specialty and recreational vehicle purchase and rental consideration, by area, March 2021
      • Figure 21: Airstream event in Uptown Shelby, NC
    • Younger males dominate motorcycle ownership and interest; opportunities to attract younger females
      • Figure 22: Current ownership – Interest level in purchase or renting, by gender and age, March 2021
      • Figure 23: Harley-Davidson puts the spotlight on female riders
    • Parents are a prime targeting opportunity
      • Figure 24: Specialty and recreational vehicle ownership, by parental status, March 2021
      • Figure 25: Airstream focuses on family
  12. Purchase Barriers

    • Consumers don’t see lifestyle compatibility
      • Figure 26: Purchase barriers, March 2021
      • Figure 27: AARP explains RV lifestyle for older consumers
    • Younger consumers worry about affordability
      • Figure 28: Purchase barriers – select response, by age, March 2021
    • Males concerned with ownership and maintenance costs
      • Figure 29: Purchase barriers – select response, by gender, March 2021
    • Consumers have reservations towards smaller engine vehicles
      • Figure 30: Sea-Doo addresses concerns about falling off vehicle
      • Figure 31: Consumer fears toward smaller engine vehicles, by age, March 2021
    • Lack of expertise and knowledge hinders female consumers’ interest
      • Figure 32: Attributes by vehicle type, by gender – Females, March 2021
  13. Purchase Motivators

    • Brands can transform consumers’ need for fun into a lifestyle
      • Figure 33: Motivations for owning, purchasing and/or renting a specialty/recreational vehicle, March 2021
      • Figure 34: SeaDoo – Live the 2021 Sea-Doo Life
      • Figure 35: Airstream reimagines how to live life
    • Concerns around COVID continue to spark interest in specialty/recreational vehicles
      • Figure 36: Motivations for owning, purchasing and/or renting a specialty/recreational vehicle – select response, by age, March 2021
    • Travel-focused younger consumers view specialty/recreational vehicles as part of their lifestyle
      • Figure 37: HBO Max creates content series in partnership with Calm
      • Figure 38: Motivations for owning, purchasing and/or renting a specialty/recreational vehicle – select response, by age, March 2021
  14. Pre-Purchase Research Methods

    • Consumers gather info from various sources, especially input from others
      • Figure 39: Pre-purchase research methods, March 2021
      • Figure 40: Outer furniture uses actual customers for showrooms
    • Seamless shopping experiences can cater to older and younger consumers’ research needs
      • Figure 41: Pre-purchase research methods – select responses, by age, March 2021
      • Figure 42: Malibu Boats offers virtual showrooms & in-person events
  15. Appendix – Data Sources and Abbreviations

    • Data sources
    • Sales data
    • Forecast
    • Consumer survey data
    • Direct marketing creative
    • Abbreviations and terms
    • Abbreviations
  16. Appendix – The Consumer

      • Figure 43: Attributes of different specialty/recreational vehicles and motorcycles, March 2021

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