It’s hard to say where the ski industry is heading in the next 30 years. In the meantime, there are plenty of trends to follow that are just as important as the overall movement. Similar to other sports or tech movements, you sometimes have to constantly “stay in the know” to be well-informed. On the consumer side it might not be as important, but for businesses it makes all the difference. Influencers in the industry are constantly tracking changes so that the beloved sport becomes even more enjoyable. Improvements are vital and change is just part of the game.
Ideas do take time to develop into reality and the ski industry is no stranger to this fact. During the early life of skiing in America, pioneers of the trade were constantly trying to solve major ski issues. Things like the chairlift and stronger snowmakers were envisioned, creating enhancements to the overall skiing experience. Better skis were crafted, along with helmets, avalanche gear, and jackets. All these essential pieces became top priority year after year. And each step taken helped to revolutionize, increase, and improve the safety and impact of skiing. That’s what it took to move the sport forward, and it paid off in the end.
From gear and equipment trends to machinery-related solutions, the world of skiing and snowboarding has experienced a lot of changes. And at a time where technology doesn’t seem to be slowing down, there’s a good chance those things will trickle in to shake up the norm again. Here’s a look at some of the year’s most important trends, and what might change in the near future as well.
Gear and clothing always change within the ski industry. It almost has to, like how fashion moves from one style to the next. Influencers see what’s needed, and make decisions from the top to shift tactics. These adjustments are made based on the types of skiers and snowboarders heading to the mountain every year. Taking the average of the whole group isn’t a far fetched plan, and it isn’t taken lightly either. If it were, small sections of the community might be pushed aside. And the point, like most trends, is to keep these changes convenient for as many people as possible.
You may have already seen some changes happen and for a variety of reasons. For instance, waist widths are becoming narrower. The average men’s all-mountain skis are now in the ballpark of 90 to 98mm. Women’s waist widths are on average between 82 and 90 mm. Skis with narrower widths are easier to maneuver in the snow. They tend to be quicker and easier to turn. While wider skis are still perfectly fine, ones with smaller widths can handle most runs on the mountain without a problem. Skis are also becoming lighter and there’s less tip and tail rocker built in.
Local ski rental shops in your area will have top quality brands like Volkl that cater to this new size. When you rent, you’re able to try out a variety of equipment to see what fits your need. It makes it easier for you to know what works best so your day on the slopes is more enjoyable.
Increase In Customization
Did you ever own a pair of Nike’s or jewelry that spelled out your name? Or maybe a magnet you found on a trip that shared your moniker? There’s something about having personalized belongings that make you feel good. It might be a vanity thing, or it’s just because you enjoy the customized feel to it. Whatever the case, there’s no denying that people enjoy picking out all the details for their things. Be it colors, font, style or the like.
This also pertains to the ski industry, with more people interested in individualized and custom-made skis and ski boots. While some companies weren’t completely convinced of this trend, they’re now taking advantage of offering more personalization options. Brands like Fischer have become interested in providing boots which can be adapted in-store in a snap.
This push to have diverse winter gear and accessories is one that’s exciting but poses a hurdle companies will have to make. How can brands large and small produce smaller quantities of products while keeping customization at the forefront? Consumers, for the most part, simply want skis that meets their needs for the type of terrain they go on the most. What’s more important now is that they want those same skis to not look like anyone else’s. Again, this concept isn’t new; but it is new to the industry. It will be interesting to see how this will be addressed and how ski manufacturing companies will add value to the customer experience.
Beginners Are Winners Too
Skiing is a fantastic sport for people of all ages but sometimes can cater to those who are more proficient in the sport. Many ads and social media efforts are targeted towards certain groups, predominantly those who are older. The industry has felt the decrease in active skiers as Gen-Xers and boomers are getting older. Millennials and younger groups aren’t necessarily skiing as much and it’s perhaps due to older strategies that need to refocus their attention. Beginner skiers as well children who are still learning how to ride the slopes also tend to not get as much attention but these things are changing at a rapid pace.
Something that you might have already noticed is some of the shift to draw in these groups of potential or beginner skiers and snowboarders. While both versions of this recreational winter activity is certainly competitive and extreme sometimes, those who are newly learning the ins and outs aren’t exactly going to relate. Businesses are starting to see how that can deter people away. Companies like Nitro are now beginning to focus on bringing growth to these types of sectors which means they’ll be able to hit larger audiences than before.
The tricky part will be figuring out the marketing logistics of such a feat, but companies are up for the challenge. They know they are up against a world where young children and adults are interested in their tech (like iPads, cell phones, etc.). So in order to target them, they are curbing campaigns and concepts to create new engagement. Many influencers and businesses like Salomon, for example, are creating beginner-friendly technology that will make learning to ski even easier. The possibilities are endless and everyone is pulling out the stops to stay ahead of the game.
Equal Clothing Interests
Sometimes it can feel like there is a “skier vs. snowboarder” mentality happening when you get to a resort. But that’s not the case when it comes to clothing available on the market today. It’s a trend that perhaps has already been in motion for a few years and one that will continue to be one years to come.
Clothing for skiers and riders are continuing to overlap because both find that they enjoy the same high-quality brands. Snowsport enthusiasts from all walks of life enjoy the same great items at affordable prices and that’s what companies have noticed as well.
One aspect these companies will have to remember is that they must keep things affordable as much as possible. Without appealing to the majority of snow buffs, it becomes difficult for them to stay credible. Make ski gear too expensive and it’ll turn off skiers but satisfy boarders. Do the opposite and the same situation occurs.
Additional purchasing trends might also be a little hard to track, but companies are still optimistic about the future. The ski retail industry will continue to change and see more trends pass through it. For now, these particular ones seem to be at the forefront of the industry as they try to expand their horizons. Pushing new boundaries is never an easy thing, but where there is a will there’s certainly a way.