In June of 2014 and again in February 2015, on behalf of SIA, Label Networks conducted studies of action sports participants including snowboarders and skiers that illustrate this specific age group’s behaviors, brand preferences, and reasons for loving, and not loving snow sports.
The first of these commissioned reports was derived from Label Networks’ ongoing longitudinal study of the youth culture marketplace that began in 2006 and were designed to uncover exactly how this group perceives skiing and snowboarding, how the youth demographic of 13 to 25 year olds changes over time and how the brands, influences, and perceptions of snowboarding and skiing have changed with the marketplace.
The second SIA commissioned Label Networks report on Psychodemographics of Snowboarding and Youth Culture* was completed in late February 2015. In this report Label worked with 13 to 25 years old snowboarders, skiers and non-participants to develop psychographic profiles. This report captures attitudes about snow sports by gender and by region (West, Southwest, Midwest, Southeast and Northeast) with a more focused view of snowboarders. This study does an excellent job of introducing us to participants and potential participants including quotes from each region and each gender, the words they most commonly use to describe their experiences on snow, what they think about snow sports in general, and other action sports they enjoy.
- Certain “sports” like snowboarding and skateboarding are considered “activities” and something that 13 to 25 years old just do as part of their lifestyle. They may tell you they don’t participate in sports but you can find them skating and snowboarding.
- When asked which snowboard or snowboard apparel brand they like best, 28% say Burton, 8% say DC, and 7% say Neff. Fox Racing, Roxy, Vans, Volcom, The North Face, Oakley and Hurley round out the top ten.
- California is the place you will find the most positive attitudes toward action sports while those who say action sports are not part of their lives or express negativity toward action sports are most likely to live in the Southeastern U.S.
- The Northeast is home to the most passionate skiers in the 13 to 25 age group. Interestingly in this region, resorts that are one to two hours away are considered far away whereas a resort in that proximity in the West of Midwest would be considered close by.
- Consistently, over the past 10 years, 13 to 25 year olds say the top factor that would make buying snowboard or ski equipment easier is if it were less expensive. And “If I knew what to buy” was the second most popular factor (at 38%).
- The top three reasons 13 to 25 year olds have not started skiing or snowboarding are;
- No resorts near me (33%)
- Too expensive (22%)
- Don’t know how to get started” (22%.
- Providing cheaper and easier access to ridable (snowboard) terrain would convince 43% of 13 to 25 year olds interested in snowboarding to try it. The second most popular item on that wish list is “someone to teach them.”
- Price is the main thing 13 to 25 year olds would like to change about snowboarding and skiing, but surprisingly, 12% of snowboarders and 16% of skiers in this age group said the main thing they wanted to change are attitudes (about snowboarding and skiing ) among those who don’t participate.
- 21% of snowboarders and 18% of skiers said the thing that concerns them most about the future of snowboarding and skiing is climate change. After expense, it was the second most popular concern for both skiers and snowboarders. Concern over climate change has increased significantly over the past decades among members of the 13 to 25 year age group.
- The desktop computer is an obsolete device to this age group, 50% shop, and 65% interact on social media exclusively on their smart phones and tablets.
- More than 90% have a Facebook page, 81% have a YouTube account, 76% have an Instagram account, 72% have a Twitter account, and 54% are on Tumblr.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this work by Label Networks is the ability to see how the youth market changes over time. Most of the persons who were subjects in 2006 have moved beyond this age group so we get a view of a complete generational turnover. Maybe one of the best examples given to illustrate this is the statement “There’s even some confusion we’ve discovered among young people in 2014 who think that Tony Hawk is a video game character, not an actual ex-pro who landed the first 900 in an X Games competition.” Each successive generation seeks its own identity and puts their own signature on lifestyle trends.
Bottom line, we must keep our eye on this demographic to stay ahead of shifts they inevitably will bring to our marketplace.
*If you are a member of SIA and would like to get copies of the reports SIA commissioned from Label Networks, please contact Kelly Davis, SIA’s Director of Research at KDavis@snowsports.org or by phone at 703-506-4224.