The ski industry has been around since the beginning of thecentury. Since that time the retailing industry of the ski world hasbeen on a steady increase. At the beginning of this decade theincrease began to skyrocket. However, skiing was not the reasonfor the growth. The reason for the dramatic increase in industrysales in the retail world of skiing was due to snowboarding. Bynow almost everyone in the country has either seen a snowboard,ridden one, or knows someone who has. The purpose of this paperis to discuss what snowboarding is, and to shed some light on thefinancial aspects of this new sport.
Snowboarding hit the scene in 1972. Jake Burton, at the age of 15,decided that he had enough of skiing and wanted to do somethinga little different. With a little ingenuity and some of his dad’s toolshe began working on the first snowboard. His project lasted aboutthree weeks and when he was done he decided to take hisinvention to the slopes and she how it worked.
This was almostthe end of snowboarding. Every slope Jake went to denied himaccess, saying that they only allowed skis on the hills. Jake was avery determined kid and this did not stop him. He began hikingevery backcountry trail he could find and he became quite efficientat snowboarding. At the same time he continued to knock on allthe ticket windows at every resort but still had no success. Hedecided that the only way he could prove his invention wasnothing more than a different version of a ski would be to make avideo of himself riding down the back country hills. This was noeasy task, keep in mind the year is 1972. Jake was determined andhe met up with a guy named Craig Kelly who at the time was intovideo production of skateboarding and skiing. Jake gave the salespitch and Craig bit hook, line, and sinker. The next week the videowas complete and Jake took it to all the resorts with Craig and theypled their case. By this time Jake had made about a dozen moreprototypes of his snowboard and all his best friends were ridingthem. Finally a small mountain, Okemo, said “O.K. Jake you canride, but only during the week” This was all it took and from thenon almost anyone that saw this crazy kid zipping down the hill on awooden board with both feet strapped to it began to askquestions. From that moment on Burton Snowboards, INC. wascreated and is now the number one manufacturer of snowboards inthe world. (Burton 1988). In the 1980’s snowboarding was still not extremely popular and itwas very rare for a resort to allow it on the hills. As the yuppie ageended and the Generation X’ers began to get into skateboarding,BMX bikes, bungee jumping, and roller blading, snowboardingtook off. By 1991 eight-five percent of all ski resorts allowedsnowboarders to share the mountains with skiers. (Gatlin 1993)According to the same article over 73% of the peoplesnowboarding in 1991 were under the age of 25. This age grouptypifies Generation X. Along with snowboarding came an entirenew image. Brad Wilson, the marketing director for Big BearMountain in southern California summed it up well with this quote:”It was kind of like the 1960’s all over again, snowboarders dressdifferently, they have different haircuts and they ride on thisdifferent-looking board down the hill.” (Feldman 1995). In an agewhere being different is normal, snowboarding just seemed to fitright in to the picture. Now, in 1996 only 3% of ski resorts do notallow snowboarding. The resorts have realized that if they want tostay in business then catering to snowboarders is one of theeasiest ways. Many resorts have begun to add new trails to themountain just to accommodate snowboarding. Most of these extraslopes have huge jumps, half-pipes, tables, trashcans, metal pipes,and even cars for snowboarders to jump on or over. The mostimportant feature of these special slopes is the fact that skiers arenot allowed on them. The reason that many resorts have addedthese snowboard parks is because of the problems between skiersand snowboarders. (Feldman) Roger Hauser, the director of Massanutten Ski School, said thatthere were quite a few reasons the resort added the “snowboardonly” park five years ago. First of all, he said the mangers of themountain were taking a lot of “heat” from skiers because of all thejumping and tricks the snowboarders were doing on the slopes. Hesaid that when kids are doing tricks they are going to be fallingdown, when they fall down people run into them. So the mountainadded the park and now limits snowboarders who want to do tricksto use that slope. The rest of the mountain is still open tosnowboarders. Hauser said that since the park was opened therehas been a dramatic decrease in injuries between skier andsnowboard collisions. He also said that business has picked upabout 15% in the past five years, which he believes is attributed tosnowboarding. Ski resorts are not the only place that business has picked up inthe past five years. The main area of financial growth is the actualsnowboard manufactures of snowboards. Currently there are 117snowboard companies in the world. (Schacter) Of the 117 there arefive that hold 50% of the market. Burton is number one with anannual sales of around 30million, Ride is number two, and three,four and five are: Sims, Morrow, and Anthony. (Baker 1995)Morrow and Ride have seen the most dramatic increases in theindustry since 1993. The total current assets for Ride in 1993 were$2,365,000 and in 1995 they were up to $37,139,000. Morrows totalcurrent assets went from $6,607,000 to $31,179,000 in the same timeperiod. Net sales for both companies went up dramatically in thepast five years also. Ride has seen a net sales increase of 611.2%while Morrow’s sales have increase 74%. (These figures aredirectly from the company records of both companies.) The cost of snowboards is one reason that sales have gone up forthese companies and it is also another reason for the popularity ofsnowboarding as compared to skiing. If Joe Public sixteen-year-oldwants to start snowboarding he is going to need to get himselfsome equipment. The average cost of a complete setup, whichincludes a snowboard, bindings that hold the board to the feet ofthe rider, and boots, costs around $450 according to TransworldSnowboarding 1996 buyers guide. If the same kid would want toset himself up with a ski package he would have to get the skis,bindings, boots, poles, goggles, neon ski-outfit (required forskiers), and multiple other flashy accessories. The average cost ofa new ski setup is around $850 according to Ski magazine 1996buyers guide. It is clearly cheaper to get into snowboarding. Thisprice advantage of snowboards over skis is much more attractiveto the average teenager who probably doesn’t have much moneyanyway. It is also more attractive to Mom and Dad to spend lesson a snowboard than skis. Sepp Kobler, the manager of Freestyle Sports in Charlottseville,said that five years ago snowboards and accessories accountedfor about 5% of all sales in the shop. Now it accounts for close to30%. Kobler feels that if it were not for the dramatic increase insnowboarding he would have had a hard time keeping the shopopen. “Kids are into it, and so are there folks, its cheaper, its morefun, and its easier to learn” says Kobler. A sales clerk at BearMountain, Brian Almarez says that is extremely hard to keep thehooded flannel shirts in stock. Also, the baggy pants “fly out thedoor faster than natty neon-colored ski wear.” Almarez also statesthat “you don’t see too many snowboarders out there who aren’tmaking a fashion statement.” (Feldman) The final area of retailing that has reaped many positive benefitsfrom snowboarding is in the sales of lessons. The author, aprofessional snowboard instructor, has seen lessons go up 50%each year over the past three years at Massanutten. Consideringthat a one-hour private lesson costs $30 this is a huge increase inrevenue for ski resorts. Hauser, the Massanutten Ski SchoolDirector, expects snowboard lessons to be on the rise this year.
“The rental shop has ordered about 150 new boards and we haveadded a few more promotional events to keep up with the demandfor snowboarding” said Hauser. According to the Professional SkiInstructors of America winter 1996 newsletter, every resort that isP.S.I.A. accredited offers both ski and snowboard lessons.
Currently 35% of all beginner lessons at resorts are snowboardlessons. (PSIA) Snowboarding is currently in a huge growth stage. Even though itcame out in the seventies, the most dramatic increase the industryhas seen has been over the past 5 years. It is a sport that isprimarily appealing to Generation X. The image that goes alongwith snowboarding is primarily defined as original. Snowboardersdo their own thing, but nobody (except the occasional skier) seemsto mind. Snowboarders have brought a breath of fresh air to manybusinesses. These businesses range from manufacturers of boardsand equipment all the way to ski schools that are offering lessons.
Snowboarding is bringing large amounts of revenue to all of thesebusinesses. There are a few primary advantages snowboarding hasover skiing such as: appeal to younger population, cost of gettingstarted, and current popularity. From all of the research here itwould be easy to assume this trend will continue to grow. Thecurrent population is into extreme-sports and generation X iscontinuing to grow. It would also be easy to assume that over thenext few years not only will there be an increase in the number ofpeople snowboarding, but there will also be an increase in the costof snowboarding equipment. These factors will have positivebenefits on both the manufacturers of snowboards and the retailstores selling the boards and equipment. Sources Baker, Molly (1995) “Snowboard Shares Zip Higher as InvestorsJoin in the Sport,” Wall Street Journal, Dec.18, sec:C1 Burton, Jake (1988) “Burton: Now and Then,” Burton VideoProductions, Burlington VT Gatlin, L. Dana (1993) “Snowboarding boom begins to include theolder set,” Christian Science Monitor, Jan. 15, p14. Feldman, Paul (1993) “Snowboard Siege,” Los Angeles Times, Jan.
18, sec:A3 Hauser, Roger (1996) Personal Interview, Ski School Director,Massanutten Ski Resort, Harrisonburg, VA Nov. 6. Kobler, Sepp (1996) Personal Interview, Manager, Freestyle Sports,Charlottesville, VA Nov. 5. Morrow Snowboards Inc., Company Records, 2600 Pringle RoadSouth East, Salem OR 97302 Ride Inc., Company Records, 8160 304th Ave. Southeast, PrestonWA 98050
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The Impact of Snowboarding on Retail Marketing. (2018, Dec 08). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/the-impact-of-snowboarding-on-retail-marketing/