Thursday, September 23, 2010

RVs as guest houses?


After segmenting their users into three groups – retirees, outdoor enthusiasts (the largest user segment), and younger affluent creative types, the folks at Airstream have decided the time is right to give some attention to the final group, which is their fastest growing segment. Oddly enough though, this group is not interested in hitting the road, but rather in using the upscale vehicles for alternative often stationary purposes such as guest houses, home offices and studios.

Since the trend began with celebrities, (Johnny Depp reportedly uses his as a pool house) it makes sense that the niche campaign will focus on celebrity efforts, a partnership with Bloomingdales, home catalogues, and the now ubiquitous sweepstake. (Greenberg, 2010)

So what do you think? Will this approach strengthen the bottom line by bringing new users into the category, or backfire by alienating core outdoors and travel buyers?

Greenberg, K. (2010, September 17). Airstream Looks To Younger, Creative Affluents. Retrieved September 22, 2010, from


  1. I don't parents are both planning on living in airstreams and traveling around the world after they retire. and I have always gone camping in airstreams as well. So I guess I will most likely end up fitting into both of the first two target groups. But the last one seems a bit, I tried to find another word, trashy. The fact that celebrities have done this may cause some fresh out of college kids to buy one together and live in it. (For example on Grey's Anatomy, Shephard is a doctor but lives in a trailer in the woods). But at the same time I would not want to admit that I live in a trailer after college. I also think that this may turn off the other two target groups, and take away from the idea that the trailers are meant to explore the world! It is painful for me to here that someone would have a trailer and not use it to explore. It is painful for me to here that someone would have a trailer and not use it to explore. I think I would be slightly turned off to buy a trailer if I heard everyone was using them for pool houses.

  2. Targeting young, affluent creative types may or may not work (my guess is it wouldn't add significantly to the bottom line), but as long as Airstream keeps targeting their core constituency I don't imagine that a separate campaign will have a negative effect on that group, who are likelier to buy an Airstream anyway.

  3. I think the key to communicating this position would be to advertise the versatility of this space and the fact that it can be customized to fit a specific purpose and need. I think the advantage that these have over the typical arrangement of building your own studio or pool house or anything is that they come already made and can be moved into a position or changed afterwards without a great deal of hassle or investment and specific to the needs of the customer. I don't think these people want something that could double as almost another home, they want their own private corner.

  4. I think Airstream should re-think thier decision by focusing on the long term success of their product. Retirees/outdoor types view the R.V as a need in their everyday life, this keeps them as loyal customers. The young creative affluent type may view an R.V as a cool new gadget/toy for the moment so they may soon get bored and move on to the new next thing.

  5. So you have a product that is in a niche market that does very well with it's core users. Along the way, the company picked up some new buyers/users which has become the company"s fastest growing segment. One of Airstreams attractive features, if not the main feature, is the patented design which has caught the eye of their fastest growing segment. In addition, Airstream is receiving free advertising for it's product given by an upscale department store, magazine spreads, design magazines, and the like. The people who shop at the store and read the magazines are those who have some influence, money. Airstream is not doing anything to necessarily change their core market, but is running side campaigns to help sell more RV's, which is why they are in business. Will this alienate their core users? Highly unlikely. The core users buy the product because of it's uniqueness and design as well so they can relate. I think this will add to the bottom line for at least a short time period. As with anything in design, the "novelty" could wear off to the new users, or it could be that the newest users could become Airstreams future core business. Think Apple. Either way, it all adds up to more sales which will increase the bottom line.

  6. I think this is a great idea. I never thought that having a RV could be seen as cool and I think this is a great chance to take advantage of this new idea of RVs. If someone like Johnny Depp is backing them as a pool house, the people at Airstream could use this celebrity recognition as fuel for a new way of looking at the product. I think Airstream should hop on this opportunity before the hyped goes down because who now when they will ever get another chance like this. I don't think that this will backfire by alienating core outdoors and travel buyers because it is well known what RVs are intended to do. These buyers don't need a campaign to have a RV be sold to them because wanting a RV seems like something you decide on your own if you want one, not by some advertisement. I think if anything it would make core outdoors and travel buyers feel cooler if celebrities have RVs too.

  7. I'm not 100% percent this campaign will "increase the bottom line" dramatically; however, I do feel some current owners of RV's may now see an alternate/increase in use for their $90,000 investment.

    This campaign will not alienate potential buyers; those "RV'ers" passionate about hitting the road will assimilate with others having the same passion. An RV is not an impulse buy - if you are going to buy an RV, you have thought long and hard about it. If you are looking to go out and explore Route 66, the idea of someone else using their RV as a guest house will not make you reconsider your purchase.
    I am sure; however, these "hardcore RV'ers" will be dumb-founded as to why someone would purchase an RV only to have it sit stationary - but that's an argument I will let Bob from the great plains vs. Joe from the 'burbs duke out.

    I do feel the "RV'er" with moderate use of their vehicle will now see a new potential to their investment. I know if I had just graduated college and my parents had an RV, I would LOVE to have it as my own separate "guest house" (rather than a bedroom next to little sister Susie as I wait for the economy to bounce back)

    Who knows, maybe Dad's around the country will transform these RV's into their new and improved "Man Caves" holding poker nights on Saturdays...if so, I say go for it; I'm all in.