Retail Buyers Guide: Kites SS20
Brand: Peter Lynn Kiteboarding (PLKB)
Interviewee: Rik Haenen, Marketing Manager
What are the main trends for 2019 in the kite market, in terms of riding styles (freestyle, freeride, foil, wave…) and riding locations (ocean vs lakes, rivers, wave parks)? Where have you seen the biggest growth so far in 2019?
Lightweight kites, one kite for all and big air kites. Hot and windless summers made foilboarding extremely popular last year. This made the kites evolve to be lighter giving more room for foil kites and one strut tubes. The lightweight kites increase the low end of kiteboarding significantly. As the one-kite-fit-all is around for a long time, it was this year pushed more. The last trend this year was big air kites. Even though the King of the Air is the oldest event around, breaking Woo records is still gaining popularity. With records exceeding the 30m, the race to 40m is on and so are the kites evolving with it.
As the founder of depower foil kites, we saw a big growth in accessible foil kites dedicated to hydrofoiling. Since hydrofoiling will become an Olympic sport, we saw a big boost in sales towards these race kites, however, this will remain in niche within the sport.
What do you believe will be the main trends for 2020 in the kite market, in terms of riding styles (freestyle, freeride, foil, wave…) and riding locations (ocean vs. lakes, rivers, wave parks)? Where do you expect the biggest growth in 2020?
The spin-off in 2020 will be that Kites will evolve to be lighter with the use of different more durable materials, increasing the wind range of kiting. Also the race to 40m will create an awesome rivalry between kite brands to create the perfect big air kite. With many brands able to easily produce a kite, it will be the brands with the best in-house designers that will exceed. It’s not about the marketing terms you throw at your kite but the actual performance and sophisticated design of your kite that will make the difference. That’s why we’re happy to have the best designers in-house and work ahead of their time.
All interesting but where the big advantages lie is within the production of the kites. A big trend upcoming year will be in making the market more sustainable. As kites are produced in similar factories, it’s difficult to make a difference. However, as an elite sport that harnessed nature, we should be the first to take this into account. I believe that this change doesn’t have to come only from the materials we use, but how we consume them, and as a market what we do with our responsibility. We work on making the kites more durable, last longer and try to take a lead in responsibility for the environment we kite in.
2020 will be about 2 types; lightweight kites and big air kites. Other innovations that will boost the market remain our secret.
What was successful for you in 2019 in terms of product technology or changes in product you implemented? What is new for your kite construction and design for 2020? Are there any trends in terms of design, construction and materials that the entire industry seems to be progressing towards?
Anybody who tried our kites fell in love. Our brand has never been about the fancy marketing terms that we put on our kites but actual performance. It’s a Dutch thing as well. We continued this path in 2019 with making durable and simple sophisticated products that blew people mind. By adding sophisticated panels, we could make our kites more smooth and fly even better.
Construction wise, we focus on minimalizing the materials we use in our kites. We reduced every kite by at least 15 parts reducing the margin for error, increasing its durability and reducing it’s weights.
Yes, as discussed earlier, new materials in terms of durability, weight and strength is a big progress in the industry. Scoring big on all three would be a winner. PLKB is held by Vliegerop BV, a Dutch wholesale company for Kite materials. With many years of experience with all different materials, we got a head start.
Since production of the main canopy’s used is regulated by several suppliers creating a big overlap in materials you see between competitors. Setting apart from the competitors in terms of materials is a big win.
Are you using any eco materials or environmentally friendly processes in your kite construction?
We started with making all our apparel and promo material 100% sustainable. This was the easiest win followed by all our kites and boards. With the kites, we’re testing many new materials and testing with our factories. Although sustainability is a big focus, quality is most important and durability take cost time.
Aesthetics / Pro Riders
How important is it to your brand to have Pro Models and how much freedom do the pros have in terms of graphics? And in terms of design?
We don’t have Pro Models named after one of our team riders, but all our kites are designed together with the pro’s. Since we do all designs in-house and kite with our team on a daily basis, there is maximum freedom to make a kite that sets a huge smile on your face everytime you ride it. With different riders for different disciplines, we create kites that really gets the target group stoked and break records. Some models need to do one thing excellent, while others needs to exceed in more than one discipline. Looking at models such as the AERO or RAW, we got the freedom to create the very best for only a niche. Our goal is to focus on our own vision per kite together with the people who use it. We want set excpectations and exceed them.
How are you helping retailers sell your product and which method of help seems to be the most effective?
Most important is creating 1) autonome demand for your products together with 2) excellent service to create low risk income and excitement. 1) Creating autonome demand, we support our customers by offering online marketing support in the region by extensive online advertisement. Together with the agent, we try to increase the online awareness and presence on every spot to push our products.
Vliegerop BV has with a wholesale history a focus on B2B business. We believe that service is everything. This done with possibilities such as dropshipment (no stock needed), warranty first -questions later, customization, personal contact and of course products that last. It’s an expensive way of doing business (number of FTE, Warranty $ and shipment) but we believe it creates loyal customers and great relationships in the end which is most important.
Furthermore, we always tried to be ahead of our time in terms of online service. With our new B2B portal, CSV feed and Dropshipment, it’s super easy for businesses to take PLKB as a low risk product in the shop. Businesses don’t even need to write text, find pictures or admin stock to take PLKB in their assortment.
Other services are our annual business survey in which we show information how other businesses operate, what the upcoming trends are and best practices to learn from other businesses.
Tell us about your 2 key products for 2020 and why you think they will be great sellers
The NOVA – The popularity of hydrofoiling and low wind fun will grow. Many riders enter this new style of riding and see the advantage of foilkites. With weights less than 1kg, foilkites will always stay in the air making it easier to kite with low wind. However, most foilkites are too expensive or advanced. The NOVA and NOVA Ultralight is a very affordable (at least €400 cheaper than competitors) and playful foilkite that is already winning a very big market.
The Package deals with the HOOK and SWELL. Two great kites that are now offered in an affordable complete package. With the many overpriced products on the market, we try to create an attractive deal which is low risk to list and you get on the water in no-time.