K2 21/22 Splitboard Hardgoods Preview

K2 21/22 Splitboard Hardgoods Preview

Retail Buyers Guide:  Splitboard Hardgoods 21/22 Retail Buyer’s Guide
Brand:  K2
Interviewee: Tom Johnson, Senior Global Marketing Manager

Please provide an overview of how 2021/22 is shaping up for your brand. Has COVID-19 affected your line? If so, please explain the changes you’ve made, and how you came to these decisions.
Here at K2 Snowboarding, we’re approaching the 21/22 selling season with a cautious, yet optimistic approach. Being a US-based brand, the impact of Covid-19 has continued, but we are lucky enough to be able to test our product just one hour from our development facility here in beautiful Washington State. Our product cycle went just as planned, given the dynamic environment of the world.  

How much of your new line (pre-COVID) is normally dedicated to new models and artwork, and how has this changed, percentage-wise, for 21/22? Historically, K2 Snowboarding has introduced our splitboard product into the market with a two-year lifecycle. This allows our retailers the opportunity to hold margin and allows smaller retailers the opportunity to service the splitboard consumer without too much inventory risk. Our splitboard collection for the 21/22 season is all-new, with the exception of our Far Out binding, which we’ve carried over to reduce the risk for our dealers.

If you will be carrying over a larger proportion of your products than normal, how do you hope this will be received by retailers?
We’re entering a new product cycle for Fall 21 and moved ahead as planned. Our split category will have a two-year life cycle, as we mentioned above.

K2 21/22 Splitboard Hardgoods

If you’re pressing ahead with new items, what are the top three most important products of next year’s line, and why? Please refer specifically to new products here, and not just new marketing stories.
In regards to the Splitboard category, we’ve answered this in the question below (copied and pasted here) Our Freeloader Splitboard package is new for the 21/22 season and features an all-new Paulownia Tour-Lite™ Core. This allows us to shed up to 500g of weight, making the approach easier on the rider. On this model, we’ve also added Karakoram UltraClips, giving the rider a premium hardware package – lightweight, easy to use, and most importantly, powerful. Lastly, a Carbon-Infused 5500 Sintered Race Base makes the ride down faster than ever.

Are you using any new materials in your hardware for 21/22? If so, what, and why?
Yes absolutely, our Freeloader Splitboard package is new for the 21/22 season and features an all-new Paulownia Tour-Lite™ Core. This allows us to shed up to 500g of weight, making the approach easier on the rider. On this model, we’ve also added Karakoram UltraClips, giving the rider a premium hardware package – lightweight, easy to use, and most importantly, powerful. Lastly, a Carbon-Infused 5500 Sintered Race Base makes the ride down faster than ever.

Any big advancements in functionality? Skinning, transitions, etc, as well as riding?
Our new Freeloader Splitboard features a super-light Paulownia Tour-Lite™ core. We wrapped this in a triax-glass and it features 20 stringers of tip-to-tail carbon – this allowed us to shave weight without reducing the strength and snap of the board.

Prices: Which area of the market do you primarily cater to, price-wise? Has this changed at all in recent times, or is it pretty consistent?
As a brand, we’ve always aimed to support all areas of the market. We offer a better-best story with our splitboard category, striving to speak to all customers.

Please tell us about the dominant visual themes in your 21/22 gear, including any interesting artist collaborations you have lined up.
When it comes to the split category, we wanted to put something on the boards that you’d feel comfortable staring at for the long haul – day-after-day and tour-after-tour. Muted colors and a clean aesthetic were key for us. The focus is on the product.

K2 21/22 Splitboard Hardgoods

Most brands tell us that selling in-store is really important for splitboard gear, as it’s where you can get good advice. Can this be maintained post-COVID, or will you be looking to find more customers online?
It goes without saying that the impact of Covid-19 will continue to shift consumer behavior. As a community, we all know that providing consumers with knowledge is the most important part of splitboarding.

The responsibility to provide information to the end consumer comes from both the brand and the retailer. It’s important that we’re all on the same page, even if that page is digital. More knowledge from brands. More knowledge from retailers. Huge benefits to getting more knowledge from Team Riders as well.

We do believe that a one-to-one in-person experience is the best way to get knowledge and learn how to use splitboard products, but we must prepare to have these communications digitally as well.

What are your three biggest European markets for splitboard hardware?
Our support from our distributors across Europe has been very solid in the splitboard market, and it seems that we’re seeing growth in the market across the board. Traditionally, we’ve seen strong support in the split world from France, Germany, Austria? Andi/Max to provide.

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