What Brands Need to Know about the RV Camping Boom


As overall brick and mortar sales declined double digits in 2020, camping was one of the fastest growing outdoor retail categories of the year. According to the NPD Group, the category’s sales increased 50% from 2019. With limited entertainment options, consumers began seeking socially distant pursuits, resulting in a spike of outdoor activities. Purchases went toward items such as coolers, tents, grills, and hiking equipment.

But this year, RVs are becoming the camping accommodation that’s changing the outdoor retail game.

The 2021 North American Camping Report found that RV ownership was up 11% in 2020 in comparison to 2019’s 1%. Ownership increased across all generations, family type, and camper status. Meanwhile, rentals declined, signifying long-term usage. It was not just experienced campers who hopped on the RV train, but fresh faces wanting a new experience. First-time RV buyers increased 170%, according to Mordor Intelligence.

Bob Martin, CEO of leading RV-maker Thor Industries, told CNBC in June 2021 that its fiscal third-quarter report was up 550% from last year’s, with backlogged vehicle orders “pretty much sold out for the next year.”

As national interest in RV camping remains hot through 2021, outdoor retail brands should be taking advantage of this explosive trend.

What your brand can do to take advantage of this trend

Think indoors – Typing “RV” into the Amazon search bar first suggests “RV toilet paper,” followed by “RV accessories.” A quick glance through the product recommendations of related searches mainly showcase technology and kitchen supplies.

What exactly does this tell brands? RV campers are just as focused on indoor gear as they are on outdoor gear. Make sure your marketing and product messaging demonstrates the versatility of your products both inside the RV and around the campfire, and highlights benefits such as easy storage and clean up.

An image of popular Amazon search results that reveal RV ecommerce trends

Think luxury – Research shows that a considerable selection of campers are preferring “glamping,” or glamorous camping, in which the entire family can enjoy the high-quality comfort of RVing in contrast to hectic tourist traps and expensive global travel.

Campers enjoy air conditioning, heating, hot water, and a refrigerator. For brands this means you can market the tech and flair that shoppers are looking for, from portable power stations to attachable clotheslines.

Think about the camping calendar – There’s a day for just about everything, including National Camp Day on Nov. 19. For RV campers, this calendar extends well beyond summer into the winter and early spring.

Timing your advertising and social media campaigns along with the camping calendar lets you join the conversation as well as ride the wave of brand awareness even after the national day is over.