There’s no escaping that the current generation won’t be at the helm of the snowboard industry forever. Passing the passion for sliding sideways down to the next generation is key to keeping the industry alive, which is why Head have launched ‘Futureheads’: a program aimed to keep kids on the snow through creating quality products for a range of levels, running events and coaching, and by establishing a youth team.
Futureheads’ team rider Aiden Bosc is pictured above.
Why is the kid’s market a priority for Head?
Obviously, the future of snowboarding is dependent on the participation of kids. By being at a lot of on-snow & test demos, we realised that a huge part of the industry focuses on the youth and adult markets.
While kids & families are, and have been, included in the product mix we offer, it was very eye-opening for us when we had requests from consumers at test events for something their kids could try out too. And at the time, most brands, including us, could not answer this request. This resulted in us launching the Futureheads program, fast forward six years and we have managed to create a program fully focused on kids.
How are you trying to get more kids into snowboarding?
The Futureheads program basically consists of three main pillars: the Futureheads rental program, the Futureheads events and the Futureheads team. These are our key touchpoints, where we want to give easy access & helpful advice to kids (and also parents) who want to try snowboarding for the first time, or simply just want to improve. This also includes showing them other facets of snowboarding, like roaming in the park together with kids of the same age and being coached by our team riders… all very different from going for a ride with their parents on a family day. Although it is not the main goal for every kid to one day become a pro-snowboarder, we’re seeing a lot of talent and interest in pursuing a professional career and for these kids, we created the Futureheads team – where we support youngsters on their way up.
What are the biggest opportunities for Head in this market?
We all know that the kid’s segment is tough, as margins are low & investments in this segment are not necessarily reflected in additional sales, at least not in the short term. But this is not why we put so much effort into this program,
But we didn’t put so much effort into this program for the sales, we did it because we want to create a sustainable future for snowboarding, by helping kids of all levels to enjoy riding.
How different is the R&D process for kids vs adults?
Obviously, kids have a different physiology from adults, combined with the fact, that kids are continuously growing (fast). While an adult keeps to a certain boot, board & binding size, for kids there’s a high chance that sizes change between seasons. So we need to offer products that take all of this into account: functionality, ideally usable for multiple seasons, as easy on the budget as possible, and ensuring performance level is comparable to adult products.
And how different are the final products?
In the end, the product has to tick the same boxes as the adult product. Years ago, our kids range was mostly focusing on beginners and making riding easy. As our efforts in the kids segment grew, we also saw demand for higher performing kids products, which we now have integrated into the line.
Please take us through your kids range
For our boards, we start with the Rowdy Kid, an easy to ride rocker board which also includes a leash so even the youngest can get their first positive experience in the snow. In addition, we offer another rocker board in bigger sizes, called the Rowdy. We also have a hybrid camber board called Defy Youth, which has a mid-wide shape and is our high performance youth board, which is used by our Futureheads team.
For bindings, we offer two models, both are adjustable in size so they work for multiple seasons.
For boots, we launched a new model into our existing range: The high performance youth boot, the FH Boa. As we’d seen with our boards, our Futureheads program had increased the demand for high performance product. The existing boot range consists of:
JR Boa – A linerless, easy to handle kids boot
Kid Velcro – For groms who are getting their first experience in the snow.
Both models come with an additional footbed, so the boots can be used for multiple seasons. Easy handling, great performance for all riding levels, easy on the budget, those are the principles of our kids range.
How are you marketing to kids? How different is it from marketing to adults?
The most important thing is that when a kid comes home from a day in the snow they can’t wait to go out and do it again; irrespective of if it was their first day, if they got their board from a rental shop or if they’re riding at a pro-level. So it’s not about how to market to kids from a commercial perspective, but about how to answer their needs on an emotional level. We try to understand this, by constantly tweaking and adapting our program, talking to kids, parents, resorts and rental operators. It starts with a great experience while waiting in the shop for their boots to be fitted and ends with a fun, successful day out on the snow. In the end, there’s no difference, everybody just wants to have a good time in order to come back.
What message would you give to the industry to encourage facilitating kid’s snowboarding?
Originally when launching the Futureheads program, we initially didn’t want to make “our own thing”, we wanted to create or join an existing initiative but this was unsuccessful. We think it would be in the best interest of the industry to combine all our efforts & investments, to really have an impact and bring more kids onto the snow. The interest is there and the time is right! Nowadays, there are a lot of brands offering similar programs.