Walking around the winter tradeshow halls, one couldn’t help but feel the snowboard industry really is waking up to new business realities. Last year it was all talk of recovery because the snow season was so good, but in reality the market was just as tough. But this year brands have accepted that the market is still weak and so have tailored their product offerings to meet this. Non-key categories have been axed and the number of SKU’s on offer dropped. This ‘facing the future’ rather then looking at the past was in evidence throughout all tradeshows and demos. Brands are now differentiating themselves as fast as they can from their competition and want their own USPs. Last year the mentality was very much “keep an eye on the competition and don’t leave the well trodden path”. This year it’s much more “I am on my own path and finding my own way and the competition can do what they want”. This is a return to the boardsports of old where brands – particularly in outerwear – were easily identifiable by their cut or their graphics and where the consumer was offered the excitement of choice and being different.
Exciting the consumer instead of playing it safe with standardization of products – now, there’s an original idea to stimulate the market. It’s time to really figure out what your brand has to offer the market. If you can develop your own unique strategy, there’s a good chance you can attract new consumers into the market place, hence moving the purchasing decision away from price and the never ending discount season.
The feeling is that skate and surf have already moved in this direction and it’s great to see snowboarding making a similar move. In reality there was no choice as the path we had been following as a herd was a dead-end for the industry. In a commodity driven consumer product market, where differentiation is non-existent, the power often moves to the retailers and in particular enables shop owned brands to carve out large market share. If we offer an exiting wide variety of choice then all participants in the market have to decide which segment to target and so levels the playing field. So “vive la difference”, it helps in many ways.
SOURCE Editorial team.