3 Predictions for Big-Ticket Outdoor Manufacturing in 2022
New year, same looming issues of pandemic-supply chain-uncertainty. But for dealers and manufacturers of big-ticket outdoor items like RVs, boats, ATVs, and more, the future seems surprisingly bright.
We surveyed more than 200 retailers at the end of 2021 and they agreed: business is booming. Nearly half (49%) of the dealers we surveyed report that their business grew 10% or more in 2020.
And another 41% say they plan to increase the number of brands they carry in the coming year.
So what does this optimistic dealer outlook mean for the year ahead?
We have just a few predictions:
1 – More Adventurers Means More Opportunity to Attract and Delight New Customers
Ongoing health and safety concerns around the COVID-19 pandemic will undoubtedly continue to push more new consumers to consider a big-ticket outdoor purchase like an RV this year. In fact, a survey of new RV buyers by the RV Industry Association found that 53% of new RVers in 2020 cited COVID-related reasons as an impetus for purchasing their first RV (safety, remote work, online classes, quarantining, etc.). And the same report found 38% percent of those new buyers intend to purchase again, a good sign for the future.
These new buyers represent a significant shift for many segments of the outdoor industry.
Younger, more tech-savvy, and more sustainability-conscious as a whole, these consumers will have different core concerns when approaching a big-ticket purchase.
In fact, even beyond the outdoor industry, “65% of consumers say they want to buy purpose-driven brands that advocate sustainability.”
Dealers should be ready to meet these new buyers where they are by educating their teams on the latest technology and environmental selling points of their stock.
Manufacturers can support their dealers with strong educational and promotional material and by prioritizing marketing support that targets new consumers.
2 – Continued Uncertainty Requires Continued Innovation
While COVID may have driven more buyers outdoors as a whole, it also led to much frustration for all involved due to supply chain interruptions.
Customer service has never been more important, and brand-dealer partnerships that think outside of the box have an opportunity to earn strong customer loyalty with the right strategies.
With more new consumers, you can bet there will also be new entrants to the markets. Both dealers and manufacturers are sure to face more competition, and our research shows that younger dealerships (those who have been in business for less than 20 years) are more likely to pick up new brands in 2022.
Dealers should prioritize customer service and think strategically about the kind of customer they want to attract when selecting which brands to carry.
Manufacturers must communicate clearly with dealers regarding production timelines. They should also think ahead to innovate solutions for problems that may not have existed in the past (such as more support for off-grid camping as campgrounds reservations remain hard to come by).
3 – Smarter Consumers Will Choose More Relevant Brands
This is truly an evergreen prediction, but one that will certainly ring true throughout 2022. With more new consumers and competition at the dealer and manufacturer level, it’s never been more important to tell a clear and relevant story through your marketing message.
In fact, both dealerships and end consumers rank “product relevancy” and a “brand’s reputation or story” at the top of the list in deciding factors when making a purchase.
Dealers should continue to educate their sales team on the story behind the brands they carry, so they can communicate that to customers effectively.
Manufacturers, however, have to do the heavy lifting of understanding and telling their story to dealers and the world.
How can dealers and brands maximize the benefits of this booming industry?
Our advice is simple:
- Revisit what makes you relevant to your core customer
- Focus your 2022 marketing message in that direction
Because at the end of the day (or the beginning of the year, if you will), relevancy always wins.