Gaastra 2022 Kiteboarding Preview
Retail Buyers Guide: Kiteboarding S/S 22 Retail Buyer’s Guide
Interviewee: Konstantin Weier, Marketing Director
What discipline (big air, wave, foil…) have sold well in the last 6 months and why?
We experience more and more demand in the big air segment from all those riders, who need gear for huge airs and kiteloops. Therefore gear that provides loads of power and strong constructions are sought after a lot. It’s incredible to see how the level at each and every spot exploded and that riders push each other to go bigger than ever before.
What do you believe will be the main trends for 2022 in kiteboarding, in terms of riding disciplines?
This trend from 2021 seems to carry on in 2022 and we’ll probably experience another year of huge demand for big air equipment. That’s why we decided to expand our kite portfolio with a dedicated big air kite, the MAX. With an increased aspect ratio and 5-strut-design the MAX provides huge boost and control in all situations.
In what discipline do you expect the biggest growth in 2022 and why?
Demand for big air equipment is already at an extremely high level, so I guess the biggest growth will be experienced in the foiling segment. For some years we have seen people do every discipline possible and go out in all different kinds of conditions. Riders just seem to feel the urge to be on the water as much as possible and it’s great to see that they don’t care so much about what kind of discipline they pursue anymore as long as it’s allowing them to have a good time on the water. And that’s what it‘s about, right?
Which of your Kites have sold well in the last 6 months and why?
The Spark and Pure kites are top-sellers as they have been for many years now, but also the One experienced huge demand with the latest addition of smaller sizes to its range. It has been a superb low-end performer since it’s introduction, but now with the addition of sizes of 12m2 and smaller its lightweight construction and huge wind range can be made use of by lighter riders and on the foil as well.
What innovations in kite construction, materials and design are most popular?
Many brands, including ourselves, continuously work on the introduction of new materials or a new blend of materials, which help boost the kite’s performance, enhance durability or simply minimize weight. Our customers for example really appreciate the extra light triple rip-stop canopy with special PU-coating that minimizes water absorption and maximizes tear resistance and dimension stability.
Are there any trends in terms of kite design, construction and materials that the entire industry seems to be progressing towards?
I think most brands are developing their gear into the direction, they feel works best for their philosophy. Of course everybody looks at what others are doing, but I’d say it’s a good thing that there is wide variety in kite design, construction and materials, because that gives end consumers a real choice between kites that do not only look different, but feel and ride in different ways. If we all went into the same direction, end consumers would have less choice in the end, because everything would feel pretty similar.
Which of your boards have sold well in the last 6 months and why?
Still the Watts is the best selling board with its great allround characteristics that work for advanced and less experienced riders. The Pact, being a high-performance twin tip for freestylers, and the Blend with its ease of use and light wind performance flank the Watts for a rounded out twin tip collection.
What innovations in board design, materials and construction are most popular?
We carry over our twin tip designs from 2021, as we felt they work great for our riders and the feedback from magazines and end consumers was extremely positive. So there was no need to rush things and force changes that might end up making the product worse than before.
Are there any trends in terms of board design and construction that the entire industry seems to be progressing towards?
Also here the brands are following their own paths, I’d say. There are certain trends and features that are taken into consideration by a lot of companies, but still brands should and do focus on developing the right product that fits their philosophy best.
Have you introduces any new graphics, artwork collaborations or pro models during the season?
We follow a consecutive path with our designs and try to progressively adjust our graphics year by year. Also it’s important for us that everybody immediately sees that he is riding a GA product, whether it’s a windsurfing sail, a wing, a twin tip board or a kite. That is why we have an internal graphics team that works closely with our board shapers and kite designers in order to make sure that each design looks great on the different products. To us it is not really important to have Pro Models, because our philosophy is to provide all our customers with products of the same quality and with one design. By not expanding our product range too much, we can better focus on each single board, kite and bar in order to get the best performance and value for our customers.
Have you implemented any new sustainable practices in your production and shipping processes?
Our manufacturers always look for new materials to implement into the production and try to optimize the production process to use exactly the right materials that both make our gear perform as it does and also help decreasing pollution. One key point is also to be able to use as much of the raw materials for the end product as possible to reduce waste and that is something our manufacturers really focus on. In addition we take part in several sustainability initiatives with our forwarders and we are really happy that a lot of these services can be linked with sustainability projects that contribute something to environmental protection. It’s the small details in production, design and distribution that hopefully add up to some bigger impact. protection.
How are you helping retailers sell your product and which method of help seems to be the most effective?
During the past two years it has become more and more obvious that honest, clear and frequent communication is the key to a good cooperation with our retail partners. Of course automatic stock updates and sharing as much product information as possible form an extremely important basis, but the past years have shown that many things come unexpectedly and only communication can help find solutions in these situations.
Have you suffered any stock or delivery issues due to supply chain bottlenecks? If so, what solutions have you implemented?
The global logistics situation was tensed up due to the pandemic and everybody faced problems that just could not be prevented in the first place. So when a container is stuck in a traffic jam in the ocean, you can’t do too much to solve the issue, but you can update retailers, who desperately wait for gear that is stuck in that container, and try to find a solution together with them. It could be replacing the requested product with an alternative, re-arranging shipments or just updating the retailer on the current status, but only communication can lead to such a solution.
But we learned a lot from the past few years and try to keep the stock levels of the most requested products high, have a steady flow of shipments coming to our warehouse and make detailed plans with our retail partners.
The SPARK is probably a key product for us during every season, as this is just a perfect allrounder that adjusts to different conditions and disciplines. Throughout its large wind range the Spark is direct and easy to handle with its comfortably low bar and steering pressure, always delivering impressive power to go upwind or launch into huge jumps with ease.
The ONE definitely has the potential to have an even bigger impact in 2022, because it’s really impressive to see how much control and agility this kite delivers. It provides superb low-end performance, but never demands too much from the rider, which enables an extremely comfortable ride in a huge wind range.
As in the previous years we expect big demand for the WATTS twin tip board, because it excites riders from so many different disciplines and of all skill levels. You can put on a radical freestyle show in the morning and just cruise in all kinds of conditions in the afternoon with this single board. All in all there’s a lot to experience with the 2022 collection and we look forward to all the feedback coming in during the next season.