Snow Show Takeaway: Weatherproofing Products AND Businesses Is Industry's Future
Climate change, ecology, backcountry responsibility, the future of the ski industry. These topics and sentiments were at the forefront of the just concluded 2015 Snowsports Industries America (SIA) Trade Show in Denver.
With our latest past of uninspired ski seasons, industry pros are now recommending that retailers and manufacturers plan for “years without snowfall.” That’s a tall order when just about everything surrounding the snowsports industry has been weather dependent.
As we wrap this year’s Snow Show, it’s obvious that it’s time to think differently if manufacturers and suppliers want to stay in the winter business.
Weatherproofing becomes as much about clothing as it is about a businesses livelihood. The take away is that, hopefully, with the right planning, an industry supplier can minimize losses and weak snow years won’t instigate bankruptcy.
Beginners will always be around - if they are marketed to. Women and girls sales are strong so it was no surprise to see so many entry level products at SIA 2015 targeted at them.
SIA research shows that women spent more than $1 billion on snowsports specific gear last year. Ladies, too, are driving fashion, and clothes for that segment and are decidedly feminine on and off the slopes.
Traditionally male-weighted companies from accessories to hardgoods are beefing up their ladies categories. Patagonia’s making “softer” pieces with more pockets; Salomon, Völkl, Head, Tecnica, and K2 continue to invest in female-specific SKUs.
The other market to “weatherproof” is the one that goes exploring. Backcountry equipment and accessories brought $44 million to the industry and still shows strong sales numbers.
Kelly Davis, SIA’s director of research says the number of backcountry riders grew by more than 1 million last season. Folks are buying everything from adjustable/packable poles like Leki’s Bluebirds to splitboards.
Sales are for 2015/16 destined to climb with all of the lightweight designs in skis, boards and accessories that will make the woods more accessible to more than just hardcore mountaineers.
And no matter where you land along the boundaries, it’ll pay to have the right lenses. Your eyewear should represent in variable lighting. Who wants to carry around extra goggles, lenses or glasses in the backcountry?
Brands like Uvex, VonZipper, Spy, Zeal and Dragon are reaching new heights in goggle technology with photochromatic lenses that work either passively or actively (with buttons and batteries). Uvex’s Variotronic goggles with liquid crystal film and light sensor are a stunner. You also can manually adjust the tint and then save your settings.
VZ’s True Def “4 Play Lens System,” allows different light spectrums to enter the lens depending on your conditions.
Uvex, Anon, Dragon and others feature new designs with tabs or magnets that make lens changing a breeze. Further, Dragon’s APEX model uses a larger Visual Light Transmission (VLT) scale from 16-76% to eliminate the need to switch lenses.
We’re no longer looking through rose-colored lens when it comes to the state of winter, but that won’t mean we’ve got no place to grow next November.
This concludes SnoCountry's coverage of the 2015 SIA Snow Show by SnoCountry.com's Jill Adler, the PCSkiGal. Here are links to Jill's other stories direct from the show floor in Denver: