Retailer Contact: 800-225-6850 [email protected]
Brad Steward, Salomon Marketing Director:
What are the biggest trends shaping the hardgoods market for next year?
A great trend is underway in hardgoods; experimentation and massive consumer pressure to create something new and interesting for people to ride. Camber/Rocker hybrids in all 3 dimensions of the deck surface will continue to be explored – but we’ll also see a return to the basic formula of a Cambered board with Radial sidecut. Nude graphics (meaning no graphic) products will be a lager part of the market and product for the Backyard Jib set will be built better, stronger and specific to the needs of heavy duty rails. On the Women’s front, better graphics, better function and flex – and the era of refining exactly what the product needs are for female riders will continue. Snowboarding will finally acknowledge there is a legion of girls that don’t ride just because their boyfriends do.
How has the market evolved over the last year and how do you see things changing for next?
Dealers are seeking opportunities on price, which will provide competitive entry points for new riders, and fuel unit sales to an increase of 5-10%. Unfortunately, this same trend will continue to negatively impact average net selling prices and keep the amount of money manufacturers have to market and attract new riders to the sport at a lower level than it should be. We’ll have an odd dynamic in the sport; an increased number of people buying boards, but riding days stable or very slightly up. Small retailers will continue the quest to enter ecomm effectively and profitably, the big players will focus on the price/product mix and be searching for narrow opportunities to do huge volume in; the big brands will continue to have their 'Couple Crew' at all the shows and prelines: A couple of buyers, buying a couple of brands, at a couple of price points. Hopefully the house brands that focus solely on ‘topnology’ and ignore technology (meaning it’s all about graphics), will finally begin to fossilize on the shelf and real snowboard brands will replace them.
What opportunities do you see for growing hardgoods sales? (are you focusing more on kids, women, rentals, core retailers, chains, Internet, entry level product, high end, split boards, etc., etc.) Please explain
Our first role as an authentic company is to develop the specialty snowboarding business; plain and simple. Without the Specialty engine running fast and clean, we literally stall the sport. Last season most of us spent the year standing on the side of the bad economy freeway with our gas flap kicked open, flashers on and our engine dead. This season, hopefully we get a few gallons in the tank and make it home before dark. To better serve specialty retailers we'll bring a broad approach on developing products for all levels of riders, built on the basic principal that visible technology is a ‘must have’ for kids on the floor to sell – we’ll strongly build this type of value into all we make.
As importantly, we see a huge opportunity in the service/information market; we want to create a legion of people who don't sit in shops and spit about 'What' a snowboard company makes. We want shops to tell people 'Why' snowboarding is fun and 'Why' our company is a great place to find your riding gear. To do this, we launched Shop Crew last season. We’ll take the current beta version of Shop Crew and broaden it out to more retailers next year. The number one thing we can do for retail is provide products and a clear path for people to learn how to sell them – Shop Crew helps us do this.
Must have, new technologies have been about the only things selling at full ticket. What are you introducing that shop staff can demonstrate to customers and convince them that they have to have?
Our viewpoint is that much of what you see on the market isn’t real technology, it’s a message-based approach; where brands are taking some of the basics of product and creating a tech-sounding message around it. Most of our team riders ride cambered boards with radial sidecuts, or our Equalizer sidecut, which is three straight lines instead of a traditional sidecut. Bottom line for Salomon is that we feel it’s time to get real about what works and not promise snowboarders something the product doesn’t deliver. We want to stay focused on real benefits, real technologies and work with real riders. Let the other companies bring the bullshit.