Kings of the Road

Licensing has had a presence in the RV and camper industry for decades, with new deals announced relatively infrequently, but consistently, over the years. Brands involved have tended to be those with a very close fit to the category, mainly outdoors- and vehicle-related properties, with some lifestyle examples thrown in as well. In the last couple of years, the practice has become more common.

Here is a sampling of some of the partnerships that have taken place in the RV and camper industry over time. Three of them were announced just this year, while the remainder occurred periodically in previous years:

  • In April 2022, Cabana, a travel-tech startup launched in 2020 that rents adventure vans and gear in the Pacific Northwest for three to five days per rental, partnered with Authentic Brands Group-owned Eddie Bauer. The collaboration sees Eddie Bauer, which launched a rental program of its own in 2021, outfit five of Cabana’s vans with its branded bedding, coffee makers, outdoor games, and the like. In addition to the outfitted vans, consumers can rent gear separately from Eddie Bauer’s program through Cabana.
  • In February of this year, Airstream teamed with streetwear brand Supreme for a 22-foot trailer included as part of the latter’s spring/summer 2022 collection. The famous red Supreme logo appears in various places inside and out. Similarly, last year, Airstream paired with Pottery Barn for a special-edition 28-foot travel trailer fitted with Pottery Barn fixtures, home goods, and décor in a color palette inspired by the Pacific Coast Highway. Airstream has long been a leader in collaborations in this industry—leaning, unlike its competitors, toward lifestyle IP—with other examples including Tommy Bahama (2017), Pendleton (2016), Victorinox/Swiss Army Knife (2010), Design Within Reach (2008), and Quiksilver (2006). It has also paired with the more common automotive and outdoors brands, including Mercedes Benz (2020), BMW (2019), Eddie Bauer (2011), and Nissan (2005).
  • In February of 2022, Camping World Holdings partnered with ABG for a line of towable and motorized Eddie Bauer RVs. The line, which includes ultra-lite, full-size, and mid-profile models, is available at Camping World and Gander shops, both physical and online. Camping World also sells a variety of Eddie Bauer items, including outdoor gear, apparel, outdoor furniture, bedding, and pet accessories through its retail stores and websites.
  • Champion Home Builders became a licensee of Winnebago, one of the most well-known RV brands in its own right, in 2015. The latter maintains a long-established outbound licensing program that has encompassed products from RV insurance to toy models to RV covers. Champion sold a line of Winnebago-branded park model RVs; these are manufactured RV-style homes that reside permanently in an RV park rather than being on wheels.
  • Livin’ Lite acquired the rights from Ford in 2015 to market a line of trailers, small recreational vehicle haulers (“toy haulers”), pop-up campers, and slide-in truck campers. Livin’ Lite also offered a line of licensed Polaris toy haulers starting in 2014, designed to carry Polaris’ lightweight off- and on-road vehicles.
  • Dutchman is the latest RV and camper licensee of camping brand Coleman, which has been a player in this space since the 1960s, when it started making its own pop-up tent trailers. Since the late 1970s Coleman has operated this business through licensing deals with companies such as Fleetwood RV (which came on board in 1979), Coachmen (2004), and now Dutchman (2010).

It should be noted that many of the licensees mentioned here are corporately related, being part of Thor Industries, a dominant player in the industry. After a continuous series of acquisitions over the years, Thor owns Airstream, Dutchman, and Livin’ Lite, along with several other companies operating in this space.

Consumers’ interest in camper and RV travel increased during the pandemic, as a safe way to get away from home for a time, while maintaining their distance from other people. This likely has factored into licensors’ interest in this category in the last year or two. But the growth trends are longer-term than that. A recent RV Industry Association study found that RV ownership in the U.S. has increased more than 62% over the past 20 years, with a record 11.2 million households currently owning RVs.

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