Region/Countries: Canada, North America Industry: Other Date: January 2020

Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: Some use the vehicles for camping, but a rise in nomadic lifestyles is contributing to the growth.

The recreational vehicle (RV) lifestyle has been on the rise in Canada thanks to an overall resurgence in camping more broadly. The 2019 North American Camping Report indicates that the percentage of campers who camped three or more times each year has increased by 72% since 2014—and Canadians are ardent campers, reflecting the highest rate of North American RV ownership at 64%.

RVs are no longer just for the retiree lifestyle. Millennials are an ever-growing segment of RV aficionados, and one that manufacturers should not ignore. Statistics indicate that millennials made up 56% of new campers in 2018, up from only 34% in 2015—a sizable jump in only a few years.

In some ways, millennials’ reasons for embracing the RV lifestyle are much like those of the previous generations—the desire to escape the everyday, see new places, and have new adventures. But RV-ing also fits with the “nomadic” millennial lifestyle—young people are not tied to one employer for 30 years the way their parents and grandparents were. They’re free to move thanks to the technological advances that have redefined work and made flexibility possible.

A difficult housing market has helped make RVs an increasingly attractive—and affordable—option for the millennial traveler. Entry-level, towable RVs start at roughly $11,000, but the industry offers a variety of vehicle types and sizes, with a broad offering of amenities. It’s a slice of home ownership, but with a great deal of freedom.

When buying RVs, millennials seek three key features: towability, technology and affordability. Younger buyers like their RVs to be wired for technology, allowing them to work remotely while still enjoying travel and adventure. Millennials gravitate toward mini RVs because they’re cheaper, easier to tow and more eco-friendly. (Recreational Vehicle Industry Association statistics indicate that towables currently account for 87% of the RV market.) Millennial RV buyers also look for features that include smart technology and solar or other zero-emission electrical systems.

While millennials are helping spur interest in the RV life (and camping in general), older generations should not be discounted. The 2019 Camping Report states that Gen-Xers are camping more as their children get older, while Baby Boomers find that retirement offers them more time to camp.

Wisconsin companies that build, or build technology for, RVs can find opportunities in this growing Canadian market.