Photo Credit Michael Lehmann

Head 2023/24 Splitboarding Preview

Retail Buyers Guide:  Splitboarding 2023/24 Retail Buyer‘s Guide
Brand:  Head
Interviewee: Katharina Acham, Operative Marketing Manager

Please provide an overview of how 2023/24 is shaping up for your brand within the splitboard market.
We are looking ahead to season 23/24 with confidence – the impact of the current situation is of course noticeable and challenging, but business looks promising and orders are again high. We will start the season 23/24 with a great and strong mix of new products and carry-overs developed in close coordination with our business partners.

Everyone has been affected by raw materials and shipping price increases and transport issues. Have you had to make any significant changes with regards to manufacturing, sourcing, or logistics? Are there any examples you can share of how your business pivoted effectively? Any positive developments with regards to these issues and the changes you’ve made?
We agree that the sourcing and shipping situation is challenging right now. But we did not make any significant changes in terms of manufacturing or sourcing processes. In general, despite the effects of the current situation, we see pretty much a V-shaped recovery in the main markets, as well as extremely strong results in overseas regions like Japan and the US, where we have the strongest results ever. Therefore we see no need to pivot our business model.

After two years of heavy carry over in the industry and more of a return to normalcy last season, what’s your overall sales and production/inventory strategy for 23/24?
The warehouses are empty now and we were facing high order volumes for season 22/23. We are doing our best now to get all goods into the stores in time.
We are looking ahead to season 23/24 with confidence as the orders are high again and we will start the season with a great and strong product mix developed in close coordination with our business partners.

Do you anticipate any shifts in the ratio of e-commerce sales vs. brick-and-mortar sales now that most Covid-19 restrictions are gone?
Generally speaking though, stationary retail is the backbone of our business, offering products online is needed and requested from a consumer perspective, but the main business remains stationary so far, therefore will be supported with all means. We maintain transparent communication with our dealers regarding our e-commerce plans. To avoid conflicts, we discuss the exact e-com activities with them before the start of the season, whether and which discounts are planned, and at what periods.

Does your brand have any new developments concerning sustainability and/or how you are positioning any environmental messaging?
We rethink all our workflows from the beginning to the end – from developing to packaging. By reducing waste and using natural, recycled, and certified raw materials and processes, we are well on the way but we are only at the beginning.

But every step counts and sustainability now plays a role in every decision we make. We are also working on making these steps more transparent for our business partners and consumers. It starts with the smallest measures, such as rethinking packaging by using recycled packaging or eliminating plastic where possible. Already, we are not using polybags where possible, have no more see-through windows on our boxes, offer bulk packaging in rental, and use water-based color for our design prints. The presses and cooling system of our manufacturer are solar-powered, and our wood cores are FSC certified, to name only some examples.

As part of the HEAD winter sports family, we leverage the synergies, technologies, and innovative approaches of the brand to become the technical market leader for snowboard equipment – and that also through innovative but also sustainable new materials

Photo Credit Michael Lehmann3

Photo Credit Michael Lehmann3

Boards:

What about new board construction, innovation, or shape trends? Any big advancements in functionality? Skinning, transitions, etc, as well as riding? Any specific effort on ranges for 23/24? If yes, where and why?
The VOY splitboard comes with pre-cut skins with Fast In Hooks for easy skinning. The board features all inserts for mounting a splitboard binding or using a splitboard kit for mounting a usual snowboard binding. It features tip and tail hooks as well as additional hooks to hold the two sides of the board together when riding downhill. The VOY is designed to give the rider the support and edge hold needed for hiking uphill on all terrains, also favored by its lightweight construction. Four additional contact points with the snow add grip, even when it’s icy. Its Hybrid Camber Pop architecture helps you to stay in control in all areas of the mountain, while the directional shape of this board is optimized to float above the surface, even in choppy conditions.
Are you using any new materials in your splitboard for 23/24? If so, what, and why? We’re interested in anything new in inserts / edges / cores / sidewalls / glue / resin/ wood types / base material, top sheet here.

Lighter boards are the name of the game in 22/23. We are using our LYT Board Architecture in the VOY splitboard including a new lightweight wood core design with poplar wood. This weight reduction transfers into boards that are light, yet long-lasting and full of power.

Any new design or pattern approaches in your 23/24 gear? Any collabs on the line?
An outdoor experience is never just black or white – once you set up your gear, it doesn’t matter if you go for the descent of your life or simply enjoy nature while hiking up a rolling hill after work. Our brand new VOY Splitboard stands for easy splitboarding that is also reflected in the simple black and white overall design, with fine details on the topsheet and the present VOY logo.

Accessoires:

Skins, Poles, Crampons, anything new and outstanding in your proposal?
We don’t have any specific splitboard bindings or boots in our line. Our VOY SPLITBOARD SET includes pre-cut skins, with Fast in Hooks, for easy usage. The board features all inserts for mounting a splitboard binding and is ready to use for all available splitboard kits. It includes tip and tail hooks as well as hooks to hold the two sides of the board together. What are your three biggest European markets for splitboard accessories? Sales are strong in the DACH region as well as in Scandinavia.

Pricewise, which area of the market do you cater to?
What developments are you seeing with regards to product pricing?

HEAD is traditionally strong on mid- to entry-level price points; in the last two years, we experience a shift towards upper price points – in all categories. Therefore we extended our line and developed new boards with new technologies and features serving this target group. With the VOY Splitboard we are in the lower to middle price segment compared to the splitboard competitors on the market.

What are your top product marketing stories for next season?
VOY SPLITBOARD SET – Easy splitboarding, effortless uphill, easy downhill. It doesn’t matter if you go for the descent of your life or simply enjoy nature while hiking up a rolling hill after work.

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Best Sellers

The new VOY splitboard , including pre-cut skins with Fast In Hooks, is a reliable partner in untracked terrain. The shape of this board has proven itself in the highest level of competitive freeriding, combined with specific splitboarding features, and our Hybrid Camber Pop architecture for control in any condition and its directional shape, this board will make hiking uphill as effortless as riding downhill. This is easy splitboarding.

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