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Jared Bevens, Category Director – Vans Equipment:
What are the biggest trends shaping the hardgoods market for next year?
Reverse camber compatible snowboard boots.
How have you responded to the industry-wide oversupply of last season?
Produce what you sell. Wouldn’t it be nice if the snowboarder was actually incentified to get into their local shop and get that great new product early because it might actually sell out if they don’t.
How are you working with retailers to help ensure strong margins?
Not over supplying. Making great compelling product backed by a comprehensive marketing program and service that helps maximize sell through during the prime full price window.
How do you see the hardgoods marketplace evolving next year?
Likely to see continued consolidation at all levels.
What are the biggest changes you’ve made to your hardgoods business model in the last year ?
SKU efficiency. Every item addressing a specific need and having a compelling reason for being.
What opportunities do you see for hardgoods sales? (are you focusing more on kids, women, rentals, core retailers, chains, Internet, entry level product, high end, split boards, etc., etc.)
Innovation that improves the experience to build excitement, continues to give snowboarders a reason to buy or upgrade and helps improve the rider retention rate. Cost of participation continues to skyrocket. We need lower cost options that increase the demographic pool of potential participants instead of looking for more dollars out of the same group.
What are price points doing?
I’ve seen some come down in certain categories and others go up. We have always prided ourselves on offering great value for performance. Our pricing is staying stable even though production costs have continued to increase.
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?
We have a new custom fit system built into the liners of our men’s Cirro and women’s Veil boot that takes customization beyond the standard heat molding with the ability to precisely align the heel holding X cage with the unique structure of each rider’s foot.
What overall trends are you seeing in the boot market?
Quick, efficient and effective lacing options both internally and externally continue to evolve. Between traditional lace and BOA we have six different closure configurations that address the different specific preferences of individual riders. Customization and versatility; the ability to tune a boot to your specific fit and performance preference. Technical moisture and temperature management materials that take comfort beyond just good fit. Environmental and sustainable materials and processes will and should continue to be key initiatives for most brands in the snow sports business.
What new construction techniques, technologies, or fabrics do you see breaking out next year?
Clean classic skate shoe inspired design. Just because a boot is packed with technology and performance features doesn’t mean it has to look like the Starship Enterprise. Timeless aesthetic appeal married with performance functionality. Lightweight construction but not disposable. Lightweight product is an expectation but not at the expense of performance. Recycled material content such as the textiles and synthetics found in our Protect Our Winters men’s Cirro and women’s Veil boots. Non-toxic water based glues/cements that are utilized across our entire boot line. Waste reducing processes such as injection molding versus compression molding which can result in up to 40% waste. Never before seen lacing configurations to address all the different preferences of the modern rider such as the BOA Regulator found on next seasons Fargo.
What about graphic treatments and colors?
Graphics have backed off for sure but are still viable when used the right way. Unique tonal applications that add dimension and depth without being too over the top and in your face. The creative use of textural interest and material contrast has taken over where loud all over prints left off. This is also a helpful technique to differentiate mainstay colors such as black from the rest of the all black boots on the wall. As far as color goes things have been in general fairly bright and poppy which we’ll continue to see but just not to the same degree. There will also be the inevitable movement back towards some more earth based colors. Even more interesting will be the examples of where these earthier tones and brights come together which you will find some great examples of in our new line.
Any new trends in market segmentation?
Nothing significant to speak of other than we are focused more than ever on partnering closely with our key specialty dealers on all levels to help insure a mutually successful, healthy and sustainable snow business.