With all that’s been happening in snowboarding lately it’s brought a lot of issues to the surface about the state of our industry. The best quote I’ve ever heard about the snowboard industry went like this,” as far as I’m concerned if you ride a snowboard you’re in this industry”. With that sentiment in mind the state of the industry effects all of us from the weekend warrior to the CEO of some mega-conglomerate and these issues need to be addressed.
Right now the biggest issue is over production and the dilution of a healthy marketplace. Greed is not good, making a sustainable living is. Obviously when supply supercedes demand this opens the doors to gray marketing and deep discounts. What happened to the days of just enough decks to cover accounts, warranties, and proforms? Has it become such a numbers game that making absurd quantities of products is the only way to look better than your competitor? Snowboard participation has declined strongly for the better part of the last five plus years, shouldn’t that be a concern when making products?
Going along with over production is pricing policies. These need to be adhered to more strongly, which seems to be one of the things some of the bigger companies are finally stepping up and doing. Level the playing field and you won’t see products being marked down during peak season for a higher percentage than they should. Theoretically this could bring things back around to where people were accustomed to paying MSRP for what they needed and if they didn’t then they either prayed the product didn’t sell out by the end of the season or swooped it up in the first round of mark downs after the X-mas holiday season.
While over production and pricing policies that aren’t adhered to are the biggest issues, their cause seems rooted in a lack of information. Anyone ever looked at how little intelligence that’s not doctored is out there? Talk to anyone in this industry that realizes what’s going on and how fucked things are and the bottom line is that when it comes to forecasting and realizations the information just isn’t there to better help manufacturers. While everyone’s sitting in a circle pointing fingers at someone else who should be blamed for why things aren’t working the truth is it’s a lack of solid credible information.
Is Internet shopping destroying the snowboarding culture? Well to an extent it’s not helping anything in it. It’s bringing about a Wal-Mart mentality where the big undercut the little and eventually force them out so that all you’re left with is a giant box store that doesn’t provide service but just goods at a discounted rate. Sure the Internet can be called the great equalizer as it opens the door for everyone, but small shops need to have a level playing field with those that are on a larger scale. Hence the need to have stricter pricing policies. As for manufacturer direct sales this is just a shitty idea in the long run, but it does pose the question of is something like Shopatron the answer? While it might not be a long term answer in the short term it once again levels the playing field as all shops could get in on this.
Should “Mom and Pop” shops be absolved of their inability to embrace E-commerce? No, they’ve had 10 plus years to join the internet world and as this is where the shift in sales is going they will have to be a part of it in some capacity. Now that capacity is their choice but there are plenty of shops that are doing well with just having a grasp of the social media side of the internet and not utilizing the E-commerce side. Great service can trump deep discounts and if the trend in pricing policies continues this could be what brings people back to buying locally. Here’s the problem with local shops, stop hiring the incompetent shop kids that are too busy broing down and have the “I’m so core and you’re too poor” attitude. Fuck em they’re worthless get people working for you that don’t care if they’re dealing with a 1 day a year rider or a 100 day a year rider, snowboarding is a community.
One thing that needs to be done is a way to keep the old pros around and in this industry. Why is it in skateboarding their pros stay around, but in snowboarding they get spit out and become construction workers? We need to find a way to keep these guys in the industry mentoring the next generation of up and comers and to utilize all their knowledge. It’s bull shit that after a certain age a rider loses his relevance with people.
Which goes to the next point, the true core of snowboarding isn’t some teenager who can’t afford the newest gear it’s people in that limbo of youth and old. The ones that aren’t tied down by debt or families. It’s these guys that can spend money. Start marketing shit to them whether it’s magazines or products.
These are some of the bigger issues in snowboarding and to truly encompass everything that’s going on in the state of the industry would take far more time and length. Hopefully showcasing these more relevant points will help foster some much needed changes. When and if these changes can occur perhaps this industry can start to correct itself. But I’ll leave you with this what do you feel the bigger issues are in the state of industry and how should they be addressed?