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On the cover: Markus “Fischi” Fischer, GoPro’s EMEA Photo Manager

In this, the age of the influencer, *shudders*, a brand’s message is now entrusted upon the distribution network/channels of these self-made pariahs. But is there anyone more influential than the independent retailer? They are the key opinion leaders and have authentic, real tribes of consumers who rely on their expertise and wisdom. When they talk, their customers listen – they don’t just simply click ‘like’. Yes, internet shopping is here to stay and those who haven’t adapted have (sadly) fallen by the wayside, but a physical presence is more valuable than ever. In this issue’s Big Wig interview (p36) we speak with Burton’s VP of Sales & Marketing, Franck Waterlot where he underlines the importance of customer ‘touch points’, with the opening of the brand’s new Hub concept.

Facebook marketing can only do so much and brands are now more than ever looking for ways to see, touch and engage with the consumer. It’s inevitable, the writing has been on the wall for years; brands will (if they haven’t already) invest in slick D2C websites to quench their consumers’ need to see-it-want-it. But how this is executed is what defines a brand’s DNA and will ultimately secure their longevity both with the customer and their retail partners. Done correctly a brand will sell their products directly through their own website, but they will do so at full price and drive consumers to their local retailers to buy exclusive products, collabs etc.

Brands and retailers now have access to so much customer data, which means that working together to elevate customer experience is easier than ever before. We look forward to hearing of the next brands to embrace bricks and mortar and work on building innovative relationships with retailers fit for 2018.

Returning for his annual outing, our snowboard expert Tom Wilson-North slices ‘n’ dices the FW18/19 snowboard boots & binding offer. Our Skateboard Editor, Dirk Vogel looks into the trends that’ll be popping at Bright/SEEK & Jacket Required for the men, while our German Editor, Anna Langer susses out streetwear hype for the ladies as well as snow helmets and protection. Dave Mailman delivers the second in his three-part series on wave pools, this time examining the business model at a time where the wave pool arms race is in full swing.

The 17/18 Winter has started cold and snowy, with some excellent early conditions. And it’s a Winter Olympic year, which means snowboarding shall be thrust into the mainstream spotlight for a three-week period, providing brands, retailers and the industry as a whole with the perfect shop window. Organise events to help share the stoke and while you’ve got those newbies in, shake them down, upsell those returners with deep pockets and let’s keep our fingers crossed that our athletes do us proud and that the white stuff keeps on falling.

Always Sideways
Harry Mitchell Thompson
Editor

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