Passion and love for snowboarding, the snowboard community and their products are what makes Nitro, Nitro. Without pressure from shareholders to grow season-on-season, Nitro’s popularity is reflective of organic growth, the Nitro team’s hard work, and top-quality products for all snowboarding abilities. Alongside these, Nitro pride themselves on their close business relationships with their suppliers, distributors, and retailers – something that has taken precedent this year, where working together and supporting each other is the only way to ensure every business in the industry survives. Andi Aurhammer, Head of Global Marketing & Market Developments at Nitro, gives SOURCE the down-low on life at Nitro and the impact the pandemic had on business.
Can we start off by talking about Nitro Community Fund? How did it go down?
The community fund project worked out really nice, we were able to help 6 individuals within our industry with more than €2,000 each.
We were not sure when we launched it whether it would receive a positive reception within the community, due to the fact that the world around us started turning up side down, and many people suddenly were struggling or had major concerns about their future.
But we felt we need to do something. We couldn’t just pretend like nothing was happening. So, we launched it with the hope that the snowboarding community would donate to help out the freelancers of our industry who’d suddenly lost their jobs (shapers, photographers, filmers…) and the feedback we got was overwhelming. But most importantly it felt good to contribute something positive during those uncertain times.
Can you talk to us about the leadership team of Nitro, who owns the company, who’s on the management team and what the general (non-pandemic) KPIs are?
Nitro Snowboards is privately owned by 4 individuals, all of them live and breathe snowboarding and have a long-term strategy for the brand. We manage the brand from a team of currently 3. It‘s Tommy Delago, founder and part owner of Nitro Snowboards, who manages all hardgoods and parts of the apparel business, we have Hannes Späth from Switzerland, our CEO, who manages Global Sales and Finance and last but not least myself; I take care of Global Marketing and Market Developments.
What are our KPIs? I will be honest to you, I just googled KPIs to make sure I can answer the question correctly 🙂 Key Performance Indicators…the term itself has never been used in my 16 years of working at Nitro. Already, that probably tells you a lot about us! But don’t get me wrong, we are a performance driven brand, but we probably define success differently than others do. Nitro always had a long-term approach, we are driven by passion, love and appreciation for our community, and want to contribute the best possible products for all snowboarders out there. No matter whether they’re beginners or pros. Our approach is very inclusive and that’s something we’re very serious about and determined to maintain. So, our KPIs would be good business relationships with our suppliers, distributors and dealers as well as satisfied customers who appreciate us for who we are.
And how did those KPIs change over the pandemic?
Absolutely nothing has changed in regard to our overall goals that I just mentioned. Luckily, we never changed the way we work; we have very close and good relationships with our 36 distributors globally. All of them are outstanding passionate human beings. In tough times we all work even closer to try and balance risks and work on solutions. Snowboarding will always be a sport that is based around relationships and having good, healthy relationships on all levels helps a lot to navigate through these complicated times. Also, I am sure that the dealers who feel an immense pressure right now appreciate these individual relationships. We need to work together right now…more than ever.
What are the benefits of being a company not driven by shareholders?
I feel the biggest advantage is that we don’t have the pressure to grow. Snowboarding, like any other industry, can simply, just not grow season on season. Investors are driven by other objectives, usually it’s more short-mid-term oriented and the main goal is to get more money out than they put in. That puts brands under the immense pressure to continuously grow and can force them to take wrong decisions. There’s a lot of talk about the sustainability of products, when really, we should take it to the next level and have a closer look at the sustainability of company structures. Not needing to grow every season allows you to act responsibly and has way less on an impact on nature… It’s something worth thinking about before you buy your next bio-degradable t-shirt, produced in Bangladesh from one of the multi-billion-dollar corporations who are situated on the Cayman Islands 🙂
What opportunities do you look to cease upon this winter?
We hope that we will still be able to have an ok season in Europe. North America and Asia seem to be ok in terms in resorts opening, so snowboarding will happen, and retail will occur. But in Europe the opening date for resorts is still unknown. We hope for a good and responsible solution for all of us. Other than that, we continue to work on adjusted and innovative marketing concepts to spread the joy of snowboarding and will work as closely as possible with retailers to navigate through these complicated times together.
What have been your biggest achievements since the pandemic kicked in?
We focused on the core of our business. We delivered 100% of our products on time and were able to present a very strong new line for 2022. Besides that, we focused more than ever to provide all our distributors, as well as our dealers, with all the necessary marketing assets.
We can proudly say that all marketing assets for next season are already finished and available for every dealer out there. We simply understood that it gets more and more important that we don’t just sell products, we need to help our partners sell out with assets for whole marketing to social media marketing to make sure our products find some love out there.
Any early season sales trends you can comment on?
I don’t think it’s a secret that splitboarding products will be of highest demand this season; also, I personally see a rising demand in kid’s products as well as freestyle-oriented products.
What are your big marketing activations for this winter and how are you working with retailers to roll these out?
As I mentioned earlier, we focused on creating strong assets for our retailers. We created 5 main videos, one called “This is Nitro” which explains again who we are and what values we stand behind. The other 4 videos cover all the products groups we handle and explain why we do what we do. I felt it was important to explain, pretty straight-forwardly, our philosophy behind every product we do. In addition to that we prepare “in focus” content where we send out media packages to our distributors so that we can promote certain campaigns globally and across all channels.
Please tell us about your D2C strategy and how you’re ensuring it doesn’t cannibalise your wholesale channel.
I consider this as a standard question in our current environment. It makes us look old school 🙂 BUT we are not selling direct to consumer. We appreciate the retailers and distributors who helped us to get to where we are right now. We are inclusive on all levels. And even if the market around us is changing dramatically with most brands going direct, which also means directly in competition with retail, we don’t. We have been naturally growing in the past year despite not selling direct. As long as we see retail appreciating then we see no reason to change. I see the market, I see the temptation, but I also think that it’s very important to know who you are and where you belong.