Key Trends

SIA Snow Sports Key Trends

Consumer Trends

  • 80% of snowboarders are under 35 years old and 51% of them are between the ages of 18 and 34.
  • Baby boomers have more spending power than any other generation. Baby boomers (ages 55+) have more than $200M in spending power, and their kids in Generation Y (ages 18 to 34) aren’t far behind with $170M in spending power according Forbes.
  • Income demographics of snow sports participants have remained stable over time. In 1974, 70% of snow sports participants lived in households with income levels higher than the median income for the U.S. Today, 72% of snow sports participants live in household with income above the median.
  • Snowboarding participant numbers radically increased between 1997, the year of the first winter X games and 2008. In 1997, there were 3.6M snowboarders, by 2009 there were 6.2M riders who snowboarded at least twice during the 2008/2009 season.
  • Generation Z is the first generation born into the age of technology, they are “digital natives.” One in three will use a smart device before they turn 3. Their teenage siblings consume about 17 hours of media each day.
  • More than 90% of snow sports participant under 35 check their social media accounts every day.
  • Families slide together. Downhill skiers and snowboarders most commonly ski or snowboard with family members. Friends were second, and a significant other was the third most common person (relationship type) to ski or snowboard with.
  • Sliding is bonding. More than 60% of skiers and riders say that they have a closer relationship with the people they ski and snowboard with.
  • 38% of consumers between the ages of 14 and 25 said that it would be easier to buy snowboard or ski equipment if they “knew what to buy.” Just 1% said that it would be easier to buy gear if “they could buy it online.”
  • The number one reason cited by aspirational (want to, have not yet started) skiers and snowboarders between the ages of 14 and 25 for not having started skiing or riding is “no resorts near me.”

Snow Sports Product Trends

  • Alpine Touring/Randonee equipment sales increased 8% in dollars sold and 8% in units sold. Lack of snow in the Sierras likely stalled backcountry equipment sales in California, which houses many of the popular areas for backcountry skiing and snowboarding.
  • Sales of Alpine/AT boots, defined as alpine DIN boots that can be converted to an AT/Touring sole for Backcountry use, may be one of hottest items in the alpine market. Sales of alpine/AT boots are up 27% in units sold to 93,000 units sold, and up 21% in dollars sold to $37 million. Alpine/AT boots make up nearly 16% of dollars sold and 12% of units sold in the alpine boot market so far this season. Alpine/AT hybrid boots that are defined as alpine DIN boots with a walk/ski mode that can be converted (but many consumers never do convert them) to an AT/Touring sole for backcountry. These boots are categorized separately from boots sold in the AT category; AT boots that are sold with backcountry blocks and are used most often in backcountry terrain are categorized separately from alpine equipment
  • Women are getting prepped to hit the trails. Sales of women’s specific cross country equipment increased 32% in units sold and 28% in dollars sold to over $6 million. Overall, Nordic equipment sales bounced back this season and finished up 15% in units sold and up 14% in dollars sold to $41 million.
  • More girls bought snowboard equipment this year; junior girls snowboarding equipment sales grew 37% in units sold and 36% in dollars sold. Overall, snowboard equipment sales are flat in dollars sold to $256 million.
  • Backcountry accessories sales including beacons, probes and shovels increased 12% in units and dollars sold.
  • Sales of protective gear including pads, wrist guards and general impact gear increased 16% in units sold and 24% in dollars sold. Higher demand means sales at higher prices and higher margins. In fact, margins on protective gear increased 28% from 42.6% in 2012/2013 to 54.5% in 2013/2014.
  • Action cameras continue to be the single most popular accessory in the snow sports market right now. Sales of action cameras were up 10% in units sold to 121,000 cameras and up 20% in dollars sold to $41 million. Over 30% of action camera sales in snow sports channels were made in specialty shops.
  • Alpine insulated tops sales were up 13% in dollars sold to $529 million and up 8% in units to more than 3 million units sold.

Downhill Consumer Intelligence Project