Regional Recon: Snowboarding In The Rockies

Editor’s Note: As snowboarding season gets underway, we’re launching a new series taking an up-close look at each section of the US’s shred market. The series combined information and insight from industry leaders, mixed with in-depth research, for a broad perspective on the scene. As an industry, the more we know, the more we can grow. Check out all of the other regions HERE.

Rockies Regional Profile

Nebraska, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas

If I could go anywhere in the country for a holiday where I could hit the snow day in and day out, this would be it.  The Rockies have the perfect blend of city and snow for me…plenty of backcountry with great mountains and good people. This week we take a look at the ingredients that put the Rockies shred scene together into a buffet of awesome.

The Customer

The Rockies have some of the widest variety of terrain, best snowfall, and greatest mountains, which fosters a diverse group of consumers.  On one end, high-end skiing is alive and well in this region with a few of the last segregated, ski-only resorts in the nation.  However, while the older skier exists here and provides opportunities for many businesses, the other end of the spectrum is a younger demographic making their mark.  You can see a lot of the twin tip/Newschoolers style and attitude here—easily spotted in the wild by bright colors and tall and/or baggy fits…this, of course is a national trend and this region is right on point.  So, while the typical ski customer is still that higher-end bunch, keep a look out for these younger skiers…it will be interesting to see how this group’s style changes over the years. What about the snowboarders?  There is a similar polarity with this customer: the older guys want tech, the younger age group is the ideal “core” customer.  This customer is stylish, trying to achieve a particular look and not necessarily so focused on technology. Apparel trends are similar to national snowboarding trends: moving away from bright colors and towards slimmer fits and transitional styling.

VIEW: THUMBS ENLARGE
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Product demo going down at Colorado's Loveland resort.

Marketing

Demos are a must here—if you want this customer, get them to try your product.  Outside of that, Cody Benjamin, a local marketing specialist, says, “Social media and events seem to have the greatest affect on customers.  Social Media Marketing gets them interested, and the events make them customers for life.”  You’ve got to have it all for this region, there are plenty of brands knocking at customer’s doors so you have to make yours better than the rest, or at least stand out enough to make a mark.

Sales[1]

Texas actually has the highest participation in snow sports in the region but Colorado beats out everybody else when it comes to sales, they buy up 51% of the product here.  Colorado ranks in at #2 in the entire country for sales, approximately $276 million, second only to California of course. Total Snow Equipment Sales[2] in the Rockies: $58,945,000 Total Snow Apparel Sales[3] in the Rockies: $179,836,000 Total Snow Accessory Sales in Rockies: $196,971,000 It is interesting to me what each state is purchasing- CO and UT favoring accessories, while TX is in it for apparel… Major chain retailers in the area include Christy Sports, Backcountry.com, Colorado Ski & Golf, Ski N See, Sports Den, Powder House, Cole Sports, Jan’s Sports. The specialty retail landscape here is incredibly rich as well. Some Core Retailers include Milosport, Powderhouse, Blindside, Slopestyle, AMR, Bent Gate, and many many more.

Brands

There are plenty of local brands here and with that comes local pride.  Never Summer, CandyGrind, Unity, Bluebird, Remind, Levitation Project, etc. are all around and you’ll see plenty of that on the mountain and stickered all over the place.  While older customers buy  high end goods like Arc’teryx and Marmot and are much less loyal to local brands, local pride runs high in the Rockies. 

Weather

The Rockies boasts plenty of snow (most years) for some of the best mountains around!  Crested Butte, Colorado is in the top 5 for average snowfall resorts in the country, closely followed by Brighton and Snowbird, not to mention Wolf Creek, Silverton, and Jackson Hole.  Weather can be variable, so people need to be prepared for anything—this could explain why layering as opposed to insulation is becoming increasingly popular.

Find Your Way Around

Best of…[4]

  • Destination Resorts: Vail, Aspen/Snowmass, Breckenridge, Park City, Beaver Creek, Snowbird, Jackson Hole
  • Local Resorts: Brighton, A-Basin, opper Mountain, Arapahoe Basin, Red Mountain, Wolf Creek, Silverton, Crested Butte
  • Backcountry: Snowbird, Alta, Silverton, Berthoud Pass
  • Street/Park: Salt Lake City, Brighton, Park City, Boulder, Denver, Breckenridge
  • Apres: Snowbird, Park City, Vail, Beaver Creek (umm, free cookies?  Take me there now.)

Industry Events:

November 2-4 Colorado Ski and Snowboard Show Denver, Colorado
January 7-9 WWSRA Rocky Mountain Preview Denver, Colorado
January 15-17 WWSRA Intermountain Preview Salt Lake City, Utah
January 16-19 NBS Winter Specialty Market Denver, Colorado
January 22-24 NSSA Western Conference Snowbird, Utah
January 23-24 NSAA Western Winter Conference Snowbird, Utah
January 23 Outdoor Retailer All Mountain Demo Wasatch Mountains, Utah
January 24-27 Outdoor Retailer Winter Market Salt Lake City, Utah
January 29-30 SMC/SSL Winter Sports Market Denver, Colorado
January 20-February 1 SIA Sourcing Snow/Supplier Show Denver, Colorado
January 31 – February 3 SIA Snow Show Denver, Colorado
February 4-5 SIA On Snow Demo Winter Park Resort, Colorado
February 20-21 WWSRA Intermountain On-Snow Demo Snowbasin, Utah
February 25-28 WWSRA Rocky Mountain Winter Market Denver, Colorado

Special thanks to everyone who contributed to the article! Kelly Davis, Director of Research, SnowSports Industries America Alex Goyzueta: Sales Rep Cody Benjamin: General Know it All

Margaux Jo Elliott is specialized in Technical and Performance Product Management. margauxjo@mac.com.

[1] All Sales data courtesy of SIA RetailTRAKTM by the Leisure Trends Group
[2] Includes Alpine, Snowboard and Nordic Equipment Sales
[3] Includes Alpine and Snowboard Apparel Sales
[4] Based on survey sent out to industry professionals and additional research.