It is the iconic “silver bullet” exterior of the Airstream trailer that highlights its unique style with aluminum covers that are proudly adorned with rivets, which contribute to the trailer’s structural integrity. Although Airstream’s CEO Bob Wheeler is willing to experiment with new models without some of those trademark features if it means attracting younger buyers who will be responsible for maintaining the brand and the RV for a longer period of time. The industry is expected to continue to grow for decades to come, which increases the likelihood of it continuing to boom.
“We really have to put in the effort and understand how Airstream is going to be relevant to millennials and Gen Z for years to come,” Wheeler told me, “and I’m not convinced it’s just a variant of our classic Airstream travel trailer.”
Airstream and its luxury buyers have been enjoying good times during a decade-long RV industry boom, but Wheeler has continued working on this issue. Recently, there have been a couple of new Airstream trailers, which fall under the category of smaller, more affordable trailers that are aimed at younger consumers.
In spite of the fact that these new Airstreams look smaller than the original, they remain Airstreams. As part of the experiment, he is discussing more extreme modifications to Airstream’s basic proposal.
“Our product is expensive and it’s light, but it’s not light enough for the needs of many millennials who drive Subarus and crossover SUVs” that might not be powerful enough to haul an Airstream. “We can’t fool ourselves into thinking that we can just tweak the formula here and hope it continues for the next generation. So we’re taking a deep dive to consider letting go of some of the things that we might have considered restrictions in the past.”
Consequently, a familiar silhouette of the Airstream, aluminum cladding, and what appear to be handcrafted rivets are immediately recognizable. “If you keep all three, you end up with exactly what we have,” Wheeler said. “We have to show flexibility to change direction in at least one of those areas, maybe two.”