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Hugelmeyer Warns of Changing Consumer Landscape

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Peter Sheahan

LOUISVILLE – While delivering a favorable market outlook, RV Industry Association President Frank Hugelmeyer warned industry leaders of emerging trends in the RV market during Tuesday’s Outlook Breakfast, kicking off the 2015 National RV Trade Show in Louisville, Ky.

In his first public remarks since taking the reins as RVIA president earlier this year, Hugelmeyer told the crowd of about 1,200 to heed demographic and technological changes.

“We should all feel optimistic when it comes to the RV market in general,” he told the crowd at the annual breakfast. “But we also live in rapidly changing times.”

Specifically, he noted trends that indicate a future with more urban and diverse markets, a move away from the rural, largely Caucasian, Baby Boomer consumers that have driven the RV industry for decades.

“We’re now evolving into an urban-based, multi-racial consumer, so the very definition of what it means to recreate is changing, as well as the makeup of our end-consumer,” he said.

Technological adoption has also changed who’s buying RVs, according to Hugelmeyer. 

“We’re seeing new consumer behaviors and expectations,” he said. “Online platforms and mobile apps have elevated the need to sell a consumer-centric design service. With the push of a button, you can call a cab, find a room and Christmas shop for the entire family.”

But technology has done more than affect consumer behavior as it makes inroads into how manufacturers and suppliers produce goods, he said.

“Whether purchasing, renting or servicing an RV, dealer suppliers and manufacturers must find a solution at the push of a button.

“We’re facing transformational technologies. Smart, self-driven vehicles are currently being tested on the highway as we speak. Green technologies continue to improve fuel economy, and a Chinese manufacturer recently 3D printed 10 houses in a day,” Hugelmeyer said.

Keynote speaker Peter Sheahan reinforced Hugelmeyer’s remarks, urging business leaders to prepare for the future.

“Change is actually really slow,” Sheahan said “Until its not.”

Sheahan, an author and CEO of the Karrakins Group, outlined three points that separate businesses that thrive during times of disruption and those that fail, telling industry leaders that the assumptions they make now, and their abilities to deliver consumer-centric products while making calculated risks, will determine how well the companies respond to market disruptions.

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