Executive Director’s Commentary
By Don Eversmann, F240000
Every four years FMCA sends out a Membership Profile Questionnaire, or survey, to a random sample of members in order to collect statistical information to place in the FMCA Media Planner. FMCA uses the Media Planner to attract advertisers and commercial business based upon the demographics of FMCA members and other information about the membership.
Each time the survey is performed, we try to share the highlights of the responses with our members through this column. Some information remains fairly constant or changes very little, such as the average age of the membership. Other aspects change due to advances in technology or an introduction of quality of life to the motorhoming lifestyle. I have asked Pamela Kay, director of communications, publishing at FMCA, to share some of the more interesting results of the recent Membership Profile Questionnaire.
First, I want to thank the members who were so kind as to respond to FMCA’s request to complete the questionnaires. As in the past, we were extremely pleased with the rate of response, which gives us what the professional market research firm indicates are valid survey results to publicize.
One other item of note: this year, in addition to an 11-page, 68-question survey, the market research company sent out a short, one-page, front-and-back 10-question demographics survey. This short survey seemed to validate the demographics of the longer, more extensive survey. In the past, the concern was that the survey was so long that primarily older, retired FMCA members were completing it, and the younger members who still were involved in the work world, etc. might not take the time to do so. Even though the shorter survey received a higher percentage of response (51.6 percent versus 36.5 percent), the results were not significantly different from one survey to the other.
Fun Facts And Figures
By Pamela Kay
Director of Communications, Publishing
Magazine publishers have an interest in learning more about their readers for two basic reasons. In any business, in order to deliver a product that meets with success in the marketplace, the company producing the goods or services must be familiar with the wants and needs of its current and potential customers. The same rings true in the magazine world. A publication must deliver information that fills a need for readers. Readership surveys are one way of determining reader interests and desires.
Another reason for a publication to gather reader statistics is that advertisers are interested in this type of data. They want to know how well the demographics and interests of the publication’s readership match up with those of the people they have targeted as potential buyers of their products and services. The revenue generated by this advertising, of course, is vital to the survival of the publication.
The information gleaned from the recent FMCA membership survey will be useful to the magazine staff in considering editorial content for the magazine and also in promoting the magazine to current and potential advertisers. FMCA depends on the revenue that is generated by the magazine not only to pay for production of the magazine itself but to help fund other member benefits that are offered.
Business reasons aside, we also think it is fun for readers to know a bit about each other. With that thought in mind, following are some of the results from the most recent membership/readership survey.
- According to the survey, the average member has belonged to FMCA for 8 years, and 43 percent have been members more than 7 years.
- When asked about the importance of various FMCA member benefits, a total of 93 percent of you ranked Family Motor Coaching as “essential or desirable.” Campground discounts were rated as essential or desirable by 91 percent of members; fuel discounts, 86 percent; the free road atlas program, 78 percent; emergency road service, 72 percent; the Camping World President’s Club, 72 percent; the Mechanic’s Helper listing (part of the Stoppin’ Spots directory), 69 percent; antitheft program, 67 percent; emergency medical evacuation program, 65 percent; and the membership directory, 60 percent. The list goes on from there.
- We also learned about the types of motorhomes you own. The majority “” 88 percent “” own type A coaches; 6 percent own type Cs; 2 percent own type Bs; and 3 percent own bus conversions. Some respondents apparently didn’t specify the type. We also learned that 53 percent of you have owned three or more motorhomes. “Three or more” was the highest response option we gave folks. It would be interesting to break down this response even further, something we might consider for the next survey, as many of you likely have three motorhomes beat by a long shot. Diesel-powered coaches now outnumber gasoline-powered units among the FMCA membership, with diesel accounting for 54 percent and gasoline the other 46 percent. This is up from 43 percent diesel-powered coaches in the last survey, which was conducted in the year 2000.
- For 65 percent of you, your current coach was purchased new. The other 35 percent purchased a preowned model. A total of 41 percent have owned their current coach two years or less; 36 percent have owned it three to five years; 11 percent, six to eight years; and 11 percent, more than 8 years.
- It turns out that the vast majority of you are “happy campers” and are satisfied with the quality of your current coach. Approximately 85 percent of you indicated that you are “extremely or very satisfied” with your motorhome’s quality and workmanship. And 90 percent of you are extremely or very satisfied with your motorhome chassis.
- The features that you ranked as “very important” when considering a new motorhome included floor plan (93 percent), vehicle durability (91 percent), manufacturer’s reputation (85 percent), and type of construction (81 percent).
- The mean number of miles driven annually by FMCA members is 9,000, and the mean number of days spent in the coach annually is 80.
- Towing another vehicle behind the motorhome continues to gain popularity among FMCA members, with 91.5 of you noting that you always or sometimes tow.
- We also asked questions to help us learn more about your preferences when it comes to content in Family Motor Coaching magazine. When asked which of the columns in FMC you “always or often” read, 90 percent mentioned “Tech & Travel Tips.” “Technical Inquiries” slipped past “RV Products” by a nose “” 86.6 percent and 86.3 percent, respectively. “RV News” followed with 84 percent of you indicating that you always or often read this section.
- We also learned a bit about your reading habits. Two hours was the average time members noted that they spend reading or looking at each copy of FMC magazine, and members spend 37 minutes each month looking at the ads. It is interesting to compare this figure with general media statistics that indicate that the average magazine reader spends 45 minutes reading each issue of a magazine. You noted that you save each copy of FMC an average of 7 months. And 72 percent of you told us that you carry your membership directory on board your coach with you.
- Computer use also gained popularity in the four years since the previous survey. Approximately 87 percent of you own a personal computer, and 70 percent of you travel with it in your motorhome. Of those who own a computer, 80 percent of you use the Internet.
- In addition to learning more about your motorhomes and what you carry in them, we also gathered information about the people of FMCA. The median age of FMCA men is 66, while the median age for women is 64. The majority of you (73 percent) are retired, and 92 percent of you are married. Approximately 13 percent of you indicated that you use your motorhome for full-time living.
Special thanks to those of you who received the survey and invested the time required to fill it out. With 68 questions, the 2004 survey was shorter than the 2000 survey, which consisted of 132 questions. Still, it takes quite a bit of time to ponder and respond to even 68 questions. The phenomenal response rates that FMCA receives for its readership surveys are evidence that FMCA members are engaged and interested in the future of the association.
And thanks to all of you for faithfully reading the magazine each month. You needn’t wait for a survey to share your thoughts with us. And, in particular, I’d like to invite you to communicate with us regarding Family Motor Coaching magazine at any time. Each month’s issue is a labor of love for the staff members who produce the magazine. Even so, we realize that it is your magazine, and we encourage you to share comments and suggestions. Keep in mind that we won’t be able to act on every suggestion that comes our way, because of limited resources, etc., but we promise to take the time to consider them.
I thought I’d also fill you in on a change that’s coming up starting in next month’s issue of Family Motor Coaching. We have noted your ongoing interest in information related to motorhome maintenance and mechanics, and starting with the April 2005 issue we are fine-tuning the technical question-and-answer column a bit. We are pleased to welcome Gary Bunzer, known to many as the RV Doctor, as a regular contributor to the magazine. Gary will be sharing his advice in a monthly column that we’re calling “House Calls/RV Doctor” and will be focusing on questions related to the “house” portion of the motorhome. The RV Doctor column has been appearing in publications for more than 25 years but will be making its first appearance in FMC. Gary actually has contributed technical feature articles to FMC in the past. In addition to writing this column and technical articles for various publications, Gary has developed an RV technician training curriculum and a series of training videos for the RV industry. He also has produced a series of instructional seminars that provide how-to and maintenance tips for RV owners. I think you’ll enjoy his insights each month.
Inquiries other than “house-related” questions will continue to be handled by technical editor Jim Brightly, with the assistance of other technical writers. The name for this column will be “Tech Talk.” We thought we’d mention these changes now so you aren’t alarmed next month when you look for the popular “Technical Inquiries” column and don’t see it on the contents page. These two new technical question-and-answer columns will continue to occupy a prominent place near the front of the magazine, and the primary goal remains the same “” sharing of information to enhance the motorhome lifestyle.