Retail Buyers Guide: Kiteboards 2020
Brand: Airush Kiteboarding
Interviewee: Chereé Thomson, Brand Coordinator
What are the main trends for 2019 in the kiteboard market, in terms of board type (foil, twin tip, surf…)? Where have you seen the biggest growth so far in 2019?
There is loads of hype around Lightwind and Foiling at the moment, with riders advancing at a rapid pace, where you would never have considered kiting, there are loads of the products that allow for those lighter wind days – allowing you to ride as much as possible.
Definitely the light wind space, as we offer a good range of foils and foil boards we are able to accommodate these growth spurts.
What do you believe will be the main trends for 2020 in the kiteboard market, in terms of board type (foil, twin tip, surf)? Where do you expect the biggest growth in 2020?
Foiling remains at the forefront of everyone’s minds, and I don’t believe it will leave anytime soon either. Following that at a close second, could be a more big air and freeride blend of riding. Where riders are able to jump higher and be in the air longer.
Well we are hoping it will be within the foiling space, as we have seen some incredible products being launched into the market which will help boost this incredibly exciting discipline.
Which of your boards are selling well in 2019 and why? What is new for 2020 in terms of board design and construction? Are there any trends in terms of design and construction that the entire industry seems to be progressing towards?
In our 2020 Surf Series – The Comp and Diamond boards have had a complete reshape, they are still focused on high performance wave riding, but now available in our Reflex Bamboo Construction. We introduce the Team Foil board, which is super lightweight, durable (in our Reflex carbon Innegra construction) and performance oriented.
For sure, each of our product designers strive to design the most durable construction, whilst keeping the product completely functional and, I mean, if it looks good too – its always a winner.
Are you using any eco materials and/or environmentally friendly processes in your board construction?
We strive to be more and more sustainable in each sector of our business, one of the leading areas are within our board building process. Our ongoing mission is to develop the highest performing directional surf and foil kiteboards on the market, while reducing our environmental impact. As an industry first, we have teamed up with Sustainable Surf to develop a full line of directional surf and foil kiteboards that comply and exceed the Ecoboard fundamentals of, A measurably reduced carbon footprint. Renewable, recycled, and/or upcycled material input, and optimizing materials and processes that reduce toxicity during manufacturing.
Aesthetics / Pro Riders
Any stand out new graphics or artwork collaborations? 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?
I think each year there will always be some fresh looking product in our ranges, we like to push these boundaries from time to time too. For 2020 we have freshened up or full color pallet, and panel layouts. You will see each collection fits well together, from entry-level progression to our team series which will be releasing later on this year.
We find riders and build product that they (really) want to ride. Generally speaking, we will develop a product around a rider, using them to test and work very closely with the product designers. It is incredibly important to us to have riders who believe in the brand, and be a part of the Collective. In our design process before signing off, we will make sure the full team in on board, from admin to pro riders before we release anything into the market.
How are you helping retailers sell your product and which method of help seems to be the most effective?
In 2017 we introduced a Destination store concept, where the full current range is on show throughout the year, and the key product is available for demo. This allows a customer to experience our products, assisting them with their purchasing decision. We have three Airush Destination Stores in key areas that are incredible kiting destinations, Alex Pastor Kite Club in Tarifa, BKA in Cape Town and 2nd Wind Sports in Hood River, USA. Apart from hosting big product launches at each of the stores, that are open to the end customer to meet the team behind the brand, Clinton Filen, the Airush Brand Director will head to all of our key markets at least once a year and go visit the stores and see what’s happening on the ground. The hands-on approach definitely helps, as well as riders doing store visits when they are in the area.
Tell us about your 2 key products for 2020 and why you think they will be great sellers
In the board space, we have a very exciting new board hitting the shelves later this year, the Vector. This will be in the premium space of performance freeride and big air. It’s not necessarily going to be a great seller, there will be limited quantities on this board. We have designed it to be different, and very premium. Another board we are really excited about is or Team Foil Board, mentioned a few questions up. That is also within the Team and premium space but will be widely accessible.