Zeal Optics 2023/24 Goggles Preview
Retail Buyers Guide: Goggles 2023/24 Retail Buyer‘s Guide
Brand: Zeal Optics
Interviewee: Mike Lewis, Director of marketing
What are the key trends in the snow goggles market?
Field of view, ease of use, style and sustainability continue to be the go-to needs for today’s riders and the bar continues to be raised every season. For such a simple accessory, it’s awesome to see technology continue to be elevated behind the scenes so that dealing with goggle issues increasingly becomes a pain point of the past!
What were your biggest sellers in 2022/23? Why?
I’m stoked to say our prebooks were up more than 50% this year and the majority of these orders focused on our Observation Deck Technology goggles, our Rail Lock System offerings and our Automatic+ lenses. These came together last season in the Lookout, our first goggle with RLs and ODT, which became our biggest first year seller of all times. Based on its success and the fact that we sold out by last December, it’s follow up, the new Hangfire, was a close runner up for prebooks. The Hangfire features the first spherical ODT design and it is turning heads. Perhaps the most interesting thing was that as of writing this on October 6, we’ve already sold out of half of the SKUs of Highmark, our new Snowmobile-specific goggle, wiich is amazing based on the volume that we ordered for direct sales. Accounts are scooping these up with at-once orders!
How are you segmenting your snow goggles?
We focus on three categorization strategies. First is Rail Lock System, or non – All RLs goggles come with a backup lens and our patented lens interchange system that continues to be the best on the market. It’s so good we’ve had to start reaching out about some patent infringement in Europe. Cebe, you know what I’m talking about. The second is based on lens technology. We have three lens categories that build off eachother including Optimum, our introductory price point with the best anti-fog on the market, Polarized, featuring our premium Japanese polarization; and finally Automatic+, which has all of these techs plus our patented polarized + photochromic technology that creates a gradual change with varying light conditions – it’s like having 30 unique lenses in one for every condition. Last but not least, we launched our Summit Series this season with a very attractive opening price point in our Hemisphere and Nomad goggles with a great selection of Optimum lenses.
Where do you expect the biggest growth for 2023/24?
We’ve been seeing strong growth across Europe and looking to continued momentum in the Alps, as well as in Scandinavia with our Automatic+ goggles and the new Highmark snowmobile goggle.
What are the most important technological features in your 2023/24 collection?
The biggest story for ‘23/24 is the launch of the new Cloudfall – the first spherical goggle featuring both our Observation Deck Technology and Rail Lock System. The Lookout, which has both of these features in a cylindrical goggle, has been flying off the shelf and the new Cloudfall is a team favorite already. This goggle has the biggest field of view you’ve every experienced in a medium fit. We’re stoked on how fast the game is changing and excited to be helping lead the charge!
What is new in terms of construction and materials in your 2023/24 goggle collection?
What colours and designs are you featuring in your 2023/24 collection? Any standout collaborations?
We’re focusing on earth tones, with some bright pops to help riders stand out from the pack. Our patterned straps feature some amazing color combos with mountain and landscape themes and our Haa Aani collab is definitely going to turn some heads!
Are you implementing sustainability in your products and production processes?
Sustainability is at the hear of our mission to Use Less, Give Back and Explore More. The biggest developments for our ‘23/24 line include using Sorona instead of nylon for our straps, the elimination of all plastic in our packaging and using rPET goggle bags. Sorona is a really exciting development. Sorona is a renewably sourced bio-based yarn that uses fermentation instead of chemical synthesis in its bonding, requiring 40% less energy and and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 56% compared to nylon.
What are your marketing stories for 2023/24?
The campaign for next season is “All Day. Every Day.” We focus on refining our goggles every single day so that you can get out and shred all day. Every damn day! In addition to marketing our patented Automatic+ lenses and Rail Lock System interchange and our proprietary Observation Deck Technology, we’re also launching a new goggle, the Cloudfall, the first spherical goggle to incorporate both RLs and ODT. We’re also releasing a killer new collab, the Haa Aani Project, in conjunction with Weston, Smartwool, Pret and MountainFlow ecoWAX. Zeal Optics, Weston, Smartwool, Pret, and mountainFLOW Eco- Wax have united to create the Salmon Way of Life & Haa Aani. Alliance to help educate outdoor enthusiasts about this approach and the cultural values that drive it, as well as to give back to restore and preserve the waterways and salmon spawning grounds of not just Alaska, but these habitats globally. The unifying goal of this project is to protect free-flowing rivers and salmon spawning grounds that are critical for both humans and ecosystem preservation and in keeping with the spirit of Haa Aani and the Salmon Way of Life, Xáat Kusteeyí. We have partnered with three non-profits that solely focus on these issues: Yukon Salmon, Wild Salmon Center and the NorthAtlantic Salmon Fund to ensure the project’s impact is felt in both the Pacific and the Atlantic.
How are you helping retailers to sell this category?
The majority of our marketing spend is on point of sale tools including a great display program that we cover, custom POP designed to tell the story at retail and an internal team that is solely focused on improving our presence on our ecommerce partners’ sites. Selling in goggles is really the easy part and our goal is to ensure healthy sell thru so our retailers are clean come spring!
Is your production impacted by raw material scarcity or cost increase? If so, what solutions have you put in place?
The biggest impacts we’ve felt have been around Covid lockdowns at our factory, slower than normal shipping and the outrageous costs of international shipments. We have ramped up the timeline for our goggle production to reduce the number of air shipments and are hoping things cool down in time for production shipments next fall.
Please name and describe in about 60 words your 3 key/hero products for 2023/24 collection.
The revolutionary Lookout combines our Zeal’s patented Rail Lock System with the revolutionary Observation Deck Technology, adding 20% more visibility down the mountain with zero distortion. Plus, $5 USD will be donated to protect free-flowing salmon spawning grounds with every purchase
Welcome to the future of winter optics. The new Cloudfall combines our award-winning patented Rail Lock System lens interchange with the groundbreaking, distortion-free field of view that only Observation Deck Technology provides, for the first time ever in a spherical-lens goggle. This revolutionary combo provides simple, secure lens swaps anywhere on the mountain with the broadest field of view you’ve ever experienced.
After years of research and development and following up on an incredible first year of orders, we’re proud to share our updated snowmobile-specific goggle. Featuring a pliable rubber TPU outrigger, redesigned wind-blocking nose beak and additional new strategic face foam for a better helmet seal in ‘23/24. Highmark builds on the Portal XL chassis for a seamless full-face helmet fit and protection from the elements on the longest days in the backcountry.