December '17

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14 • RV PRO • December 2017 rv-pro.com R V M A N U F A C T U R E R S The new CBS drama "Wisdom of the Crowd" theorizes that, with a sufficient volume of online user feedback, one can cut through uncertainty and find the truth. That's the kind of the thinking process at RVT.com, one of North America's largest online sources of new and used RVs, which gathers data about RV consumer buyer shopping activity. The data that RVT.com provided to RV PRO for this story suggests that Class A diesel motorhomes are searched and shopped by more RV consumer buyers than Class A gas motorhomes are. The standard wisdom from Statistical Surveys indicates that in the Class A retail market, gas-powered units outsell diesel by a ratio of 2 to 1. The market's been that way for several years, and that is what the Stat Surveys' data shows. To provide another perspective, RVT.com says that during the past 12 months (through Oct. 18), the RVT.com website had more than 1.2 million unique buyers looking at new and used Class A diesels, but only 854,541 unique visitors shopping for new and used Class A gas motorhomes. That's about 50 percent more buyers actively shopping for diesels over gas, notes Chris Mapson, digital advertising strategist for RVT.com. Reduce the search on the website to strictly "new" units – 2017 and 2018 models – and the diesel searches number 336,500, whereas gas searches number only 272,000. That's about a 24 percent difference. Either way you look at it, more RV consumer buyers are shop- ping diesel A's than gas A's, according to RVT.com's in-market RV shopper data. Mapson explains, "We count how many individuals are shop- ping each brand (and each RV model as well), plus we know how many times individuals return to RVT.com to shop for an RV to purchase." (See charts below.) Listings on RVT.com come from more than 900 RV dealers, plus a few thousand private owners. As of mid-October, RVT.com had 110,000 RVs listed for sale, of which 75 percent to 80 percent were "new". "We don't track RV sales, per se; we track RV consumer shop- ping activities and behaviors," Mapson says. "We don't track how many RVs were built and then subsequently registered. We track consumer buyer behavior, buyer activity and traffic volumes, i.e., how many consumer buyers are actively shopping for each RV brand (and model) of RV on the market." Mapson maintains there are two distinct types of data one needs to look at. "You can look at what the OEMs built and where those units were registered. Or, you can look at the data we see … what are consumer buyers actively shopping for?" In today's market, "Typically, no matter what you build, sooner or later, it will be sold," he says. In that vein, Mapson points out that when shopping data conflicts with other market data, it may be worth some further investigation. Figure 1 looks at Class A Gas vs. Class A Diesel vs. 2017 & 2018 Class A Gas vs. 2017 & 2018 Class A Diesel. Note: "Users" are unique visitors; "Sessions" is the number of times those unique visitors shopped for an RV on RVT.com; and "Pageviews" is the number of pages of RVs for sale that these RV consumer buyers viewed. The Figure 2 pie chart shows the percentages of buyers who visited RVT.com and shopped one time (New Visitor) as opposed to the higher percentage of consumer buyers who may base their RV shopping on RVT.com and who therefore come back repeatedly to shop again and again for gas and diesel units. RVT.com's consumer buyer behavior data is proprietary, but Mapson says the firm is willing to share RV shopper insights on a case-by-case basis with dealers, OEMs and suppliers alike. "Because we track buyer behavior, the insights we gain into the market are very strong. But really, the reason we have such rich data is because, to our advertising customers, it's really all about effectively communicating with (or advertising to) low-funnel, classified ad browsing RV shoppers," Mapson says. "Trends show that OEMs and dealers who use ads to effectively communicate their brand's advantages into the buying process of RV shoppers, who are on-the-cusp of purchasing an RV are the ones who truly capitalize on RV shopper data." RVT.com: Diesel Beats Gas in Searches Figure 1 (above) clearly shows Class A diesel's beating Class A gas models in terms of RVT.com pageviews. Meanwhile, Figure 2 (at right) shows a slight preference for diesel motorhomes among returning visitors to RVT.com's website. (Charts courtesy of RVT.com) Figure 2

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