May '16

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14 • RV PRO • MAY 2016 rv-pro.com M ake no mistake about it: There's been a sea change in the mid-priced fifth wheel market in the past five years. "They (RV makers) have really con- tented these units out," says Tom Wal- worth, president of Grand Rapids, Mich.- based market data firm Statistical Surveys. Of course, there's a reason for that, he says, noting customers are "asking for a bigger product with more stuff in it." Curtis Gunter, a Forest River towables general manager, echoes Walworth's com- ment about RVers expecting more features and amenities in mid-priced fifth wheels (defined here as those fivers selling for between $40,000 and $65,000). "Buyers are being very receptive to smaller units with the same luxuries as a bigger unit gets. They're looking at smaller units, but willing to pay $50,000 and still be smaller," he says. RVers are finding plenty to love about mid-priced fifth wheels, based upon how well those units are selling. Statistical Survey data shows mid-priced fifth wheel sales in North America in 2015 accounted for 39 percent of the total market for fifth wheels – up from just 20 percent in 2010 (see Figures 1A, 1B on page 17). Walworth says he expects this trend to continue in 2016, as a mix of Baby Boomers and Gen Xers reflect similar buying habits. "These two segments com- prise a big portion of our business right now," he notes. As the popularity of mid-priced fifth wheels has grown, the leaderboard of RV makers competing in this segment has undergone dramatic change. Coming out of the Great Recession in 2010, Thor Industries had a commanding 63 percent of the mid-priced market. However, by 2015, that market dom- inance had essentially vanished, as its share of the market at that price point had fallen to about 39 percent, or about a 4 percentage point lead over Forest River, according to Stat Surveys. Jayco still held onto third place but a new player – Grand Design RV – has shaken up the established order (see Figures 2A, 2B on page 20). "Grand Design came in and started at the mid-price point and went to high; it never fooled around with the low end. They really expanded the mid- to high- price point and caused other manufac- turers to jump," Walworth says. Grand Design now stands in a solid No. 4 position at this price-point in Mid-Price is the Right Price Mid-price fivers are accounting for a growing share of the overall fifth wheel market as RV makers increasingly add more upgrades and features to those units. By Steve Bibler PHOTOS COURTESY OF MANUFACTURERS

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