How would you describe the current state of the snowboard market? What big developments, changes, challenges, and/or opportunities are you seeing and how is your brand navigating them?
After a roller coaster ride of COVID-related ups and downs in recent years, sales figures in the snowboard market seem to balance out. Certain segments like splitboarding are still down from what they were, but there have been extraordinarily steep increases as well in previous years.
Overall, we see a good and stable market right now. Probably the biggest challenge is the unfortunate decrease of specialized snowboard or even boardsport shops. At the same time, larger multisport retailers and online platforms become more relevant as points of sale for brands. Especially if they, like Nitro, are not selling B2C at this point.
As a result, there is more focus on mainstream bread-and-butter products, which is weakening sales of the more exotic products and facets of snowboarding that are so important for our evolution and progression.
Our main focus therefore is on working with our retailers, encouraging them to buy a bit broader and showing a bigger variety of products. There are multiple ways to support shops that are willing to give a larger portrait of snowboarding, and they go beyond giving an extra discount for added models. Our strategy of using a strong national distribution in each territory is instrumental in giving that support.
Following overall price increase, any positive developments with regards to manufacturing, sourcing, or logistics and the changes you’ve made? Are there any examples you can share of how your business pivoted effectively? What developments are you seeing with regards to product pricing?
With a more favourable exchange rate and lower shipping cost, we see a decrease in wholesale and retail pricing for the 24/25 season. Of course, material and production cost is still on the rise, so pricing will not be at the same level as in 22/23. But retailers and consumers have borne the increases with us this year, so it’s only fair to share the advantages for next year and hope rates will still be fine when we must pay the shipping and production bills next summer.
Is e-commerce sales still strong since most brands have been put a lot of effort in physical retail?
Supporting our retailers has always been our number one goal, whether they are physical stores, online shops or hybrid. We do see an overall increase of online sales though, but the main motivation there seems to be convenient shopping with the ability to easily compare prices. However, e-commerce might become more important in the future as an outlet for more specialized products, especially if the support of these categories continues to decline with retailers.
After last winter and the lack of snow in Europe, what’s your overall sales and production/inventory strategy for 24/25?
Since our worldwide sales are quite evenly distributed between Europe, North America and Australasia, we don’t really need to make drastic changes if one of these regions has a bad winter. An since we avoid overproduction, our warehouses have been quite clean at the end of last season.
Knowing your line and its potential well is key, especially when you need to place factory POs months before retailers see the first samples. Being a privately owned brand helps tremendously here, as we can build realistic forecasts and don’t have to please any investors by making unreasonably high projections.
What trends or developments are you seeing with regards to board construction, shapes, and general innovation? How is this shaping your 24/25 range?
We see more brands jumping on the ‘shape’ bandwagon, sometimes without too much vision, so there is a lot of repetition and copying of existing shape concepts.
We have been at the forefront of the shaped boards since the beginning, with offering a Swallowtail powder board shape in the line almost every year since 1990, and our creation of the original Quiver Series 10 years ago. It’s sad to see that the Quiver concept, shapes, and even the name are being blatantly copied by others, apparently due to a lack of their own creativity.
Overall, there’s a move to many of the 90’s trends, in clothing, shapes and graphics. And it’s nice to see a rising interest in functional, not-so-exotic board shapes and concepts, such as directional all-mountain boards. Since the beginning, I think that developing a highly versatile, functional ATV board is the pinnacle of board design. Combining many different requirements in a one-does-it-all design is a much bigger challenge that designing for a specific need. Our Alternator is such a model, and the worldwide feedback seems to confirm this.
In construction, sustainability is more important that the next new exotic high-tech fiber. Some claims are pretty wild, though, and we will need some ways for the consumer to gauge the promises made by suppliers against the reality.
Anything new concerning sustainability and related product or construction you would like to highlight?
We are proud to say that we are going into our 3rd season where the entire Nitro board line is 100% climate neutral through investigation and compensation with Climate Partner.
Through our partnership with Climate Partner, we have developed a new concept called “Eco Lab,” which is an area where we are implementing new eco-friendly materials and methods to make better products by using materials, solutions, and methods that reduce the product’s overall impact on the planet – this season we have introduced the Eco Lab on our Quiver Series to start things off.
Secondly, we continue our business by working with retailers and planning out orders and production with them to reduce any overproduction of products and unnecessary shipping of products that become warehouse overstock or dumped into the market.
Are you using any new materials in your hardware for 24/25? If so, what and why? We’re interested in anything new in inserts / edges / cores / sidewalls / glue / resin/ wood types / base material / top sheet / etc. here.
This season, we have introduced an array of new eco-friendly materials in our ECO LAB concept implemented on the Quiver Series:
Eco Guard Topsheet is a topsheet material that utilizes post-industrial recycled material at a 90% rate.
The Eco Speed Base is a base material that utilizes post-industrial Ptex base materials at an 85% rate.
The Eco Poxy 33 is a new generation of epoxy resin that is an environmentally enhanced, clear, and waterproof epoxy system with over 33% of products molecular structure derived from plant and vegetable matter.
Our focus is on developing and using eco-friendly materials without inhibiting performance or durability. For Nitro, steady progress is more important that a short-term, bold marketing eco claim.
Any new design or pattern approaches in your 24/25 gear? Any collabs on the line?
The new Marcus Kleveland Team Pro and introduction of the kids Future Team Pro Marcus Kleveland board, while the recently reshaped and updated Beast and Beauty are boards designed by and for Eero Ettala, Torgier Bergrem, Ludvig Billtoft, Laurie Blouin, Cool Wakushima, and Miyabi Onitsuka.
We’re celebrating 10th anniversary of our Quiver Series with the introduction of the Eco-Lab project and a new shape for the Pow model, using the experiences we were able to gather during our ongoing work on the Nitro x Konvoi powsurfing project. The relatively short (157) Pow features an extremely low nose rise and our 3D Surftech bottom for unparalleled flotation, manoeuvrability, and surf feel.
We also have a new colab collection with our friends at Volcom: the Alternator x Volcom plus the ever-popular Volcom graphic version of our Ripper kids and youth boards. Both are being complimented by matching binding and boot colabs.
Also noteworthy is our artist colab on the Mercy with Salt Lake City based artist Gothsloth, bringing an all new and refreshing artistic approach into the women’s’ line.
Are you planning to focus on a special product range or type of customers? What’s your newest range?
We are introducing fully redesigned versions or our entry-level Prime and Lectra models. All-new shapes, combined with Cam-Out Camber turn these boards into long-term investments for riders on a budget. These new shapes ride so well that they will get people from all levels stoked. From beginner to advanced, people will be happy with the Prime and Lectra. We feel that creating products that riders can enjoy for a long time without having to discard them after one season is a contribution to sustainability and the growth of snowboarding that continues to be underestimated
What is your top product marketing story for next season?
We are very excited that this will be the 10th anniversary of the Nitro Quiver Series, and we have introduced our new Eco Lab initiatives within the Quiver line to celebrate and continue the progression of not only shapes but materials.
The world’s most versatile ATV board, the Alternator, will be a heavy-hitting board again this season, especially after seeing what team riders Griffin Siebert, Jared Elston, Torgier Bergrem, Sam Taxwood, Sean Miskimen, and many others did with it last season. New year, new theme, more power!
We will also promote our new T1 and women’s Mercy snowboards, as we believe that freestyle snowboarding is coming back 100% because of all the amazing parks and new riders worldwide.