Retailer Contact: (970) 387-5078
Lisa Branner, Vice President, Venture Snowboards
What are the biggest trends shaping the hardgoods market for next year?
We’ve never really been concerned with chasing the trends, but instead have focused on our personal passions as riders, which are freeriding and exploring the backcountry. Seems like now the trends are shifting in that direction. I think freeride boards and splitboards are poised for some major growth as more riders get interested in taking their skills out of bounds and into bigger, more challenging terrain.
How has the market evolved over the last year and how do you see things changing for next?
We’re seeing a growing interest in products that are made in the USA and a willingness on the part of consumers to spend more for products produced by homegrown, grassroots companies that bring snowboarding back to its roots.
How has sales forecasting changed for your company?
Traditionally we’ve been very conservative with our forecasting but our growth has been phenomenal these past few seasons and things keep trending upward so we’ll be taking a more optimistic approach for 11/12.
What lessons have you learned with bookings for this season and how will you apply those to next?
Many of our dealers ordered conservatively and were disappointed when we were sold out and couldn’t fill at-once orders. Since we’re going to continue with our build-to-order production model, we’ll be encouraging our dealers to be a little more bold with their pre-seasons.
How are you working with retailers to help ensure strong margins and the right amount of product in the marketplace?
The number one thing we do to help maintain margins and sell through is keep our production limited. Each year demand has continued to outpace production which means no glut of product and the ability to maintain price integrity throughout the season. I think that’s an indication of the strong position that high quality, niche brands are in right now.
How big are your lines going to be compared to years past? Have you seen customers being confused by too many different stories?
Although we’re adding one model for next season, we’re going to be simplifying the size options across the lineup to keep things tight.
Are you rethinking where you make product with the current difficulties in China?
We have no need to rethink production because all Venture boards are built from scratch in our workshop in Silverton, Colorado.
What opportunities do you see for growing hardgoods sales? (are you focusing more on kids, women, rentals, core retailers, chains, Internet, entry level product, high end, split boards, etc., etc.)Please explain
As a niche brand, we’re continuing to focus on splitboards and high end, superior performance freeride boards. While this is a small segment of the market we’ve had success building a strong, loyal following because we’re catering to riders just like ourselves and are our own toughest critics.
Where do you honestly foresee prices heading for next season?
Since materials and shipping costs have increased prices will have to go up slightly to keep pace.
We have been hearing a lot of green stories in all product categories. Is this something you are focusing on for hardgoods?
One of Venture’s founding concepts was to reduce environmental impact and we incorporate this ethic into our business in every possible way. For example, from day one we’ve used only Forest Stewardship Council certified woods for our cores, we’ve been powering our factory and administrative offices with wind power since 2004, and we maintain a membership in 1% For The Planet. And we’ll continue to expand this focus into the future.
Must have, new technologies have been about the only things selling at full ticket. What are you introducing that shop staff can demonstrate to customers and convince them that they have to have?
Splitboards. While splitboards are nothing new to the backcountry brotherhood, there is a growing interest in splitboarding and many uninitiated riders are looking to get into it.
What are the biggest forces shaping the changes and developments you’ve made to your boards?
We’ve brought the legendary Johan Olofsson into the fold to help with board design, and will be introducing a completely new model created by him. And of course the San Juan Mountains that surround Venture’s Silverton, Colorado, home, continue to inspire the evolution of our other models.
Any new materials or construction technologies in the pipe?
We’re continuing to refine the flex and sidecut across the lineup to work better with our rockered designs and make them even more stable at speed.
What themes are you seeing for graphics?
We’re sticking with the theme of snow. That’s what it’s all about for us as riders so we’re continuing to use one of Wilson “Snowflake” Bentley’s photos of an actual snow crystal to create a flurry effect on all our boards.