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The Impact of Snowboarding on Retail Marketing

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The ski industry has been around since the beginning of the

century. Since that time the retailing industry of the ski world has

been on a steady increase. At the beginning of this decade the

increase began to skyrocket. However, skiing was not the reason

for the growth. The reason for the dramatic increase in industry

sales in the retail world of skiing was due to snowboarding. By

now almost everyone in the country has either seen a snowboard,

ridden one, or knows someone who has. The purpose of this paper

is to discuss what snowboarding is, and to shed some light on the

financial aspects of this new sport.

Snowboarding hit the scene in 1972. Jake Burton, at the age of 15,

decided that he had enough of skiing and wanted to do something

a little different. With a little ingenuity and some of his dad's tools

he began working on the first snowboard. His project lasted about

three weeks and when he was done he decided to take his

invention to the slopes and she how it worked. This was almost

the end of snowboarding. Every slope Jake went to denied him

access, saying that they only allowed skis on the hills. Jake was a

very determined kid and this did not stop him. He began hiking

every backcountry trail he could find and he became quite efficient

at snowboarding. At the same time he continued to knock on all

the ticket windows at every resort but still had no success. He

decided that the only way he could prove his invention was

nothing more than a different version of a ski would be to make a

video of himself riding down the back country hills. This was no

easy task, keep in mind the year is 1972. Jake was determined and

he met up with a guy named Craig Kelly who at the time was into

video production of skateboarding and skiing. Jake gave the sales

pitch and Craig bit hook, line, and sinker. The next week the video

was complete and Jake took it to all the resorts with Craig and they

pled their case. By this time Jake had made about a dozen more

prototypes of his snowboard and all his best friends were riding

them. Finally a small mountain, Okemo, said "O.K. Jake you can

ride, but only during the week" This was all it took and from then

on almost anyone that saw this crazy kid zipping down the hill on a

wooden board with both feet strapped to it began to ask

questions. From that moment on Burton Snowboards, INC. was

created and is now the number one manufacturer of snowboards in

the world. (Burton 1988).

In the 1980's snowboarding was still not extremely popular and it

was very rare for a resort to allow it on the hills. As the yuppie age

ended and the Generation X'ers began to get into skateboarding,

BMX bikes, bungee jumping, and roller blading, snowboarding

took off. By 1991 eight-five percent of all ski resorts allowed

snowboarders to share the mountains with skiers. (Gatlin 1993)

According to the same article over 73% of the people

snowboarding in 1991 were under the age of 25. This age group

typifies Generation X. Along with snowboarding came an entire

new image. Brad Wilson, the marketing director for Big Bear

Mountain in southern California summed it up well with this quote:

"It was kind of like the 1960's all over again, snowboarders dress

differently, they have different haircuts and they ride on this

different-looking board down the hill." (Feldman 1995). In an age

where being different is normal, snowboarding just seemed to fit

right in to the picture. Now, in 1996 only 3% of ski resorts do not

allow snowboarding. The resorts have realized that if they want to

stay in business then catering to snowboarders is one of the

easiest ways. Many resorts have begun to add new trails to the

mountain just to accommodate snowboarding. Most of these extra

slopes have huge jumps, half-pipes, tables, trashcans, metal pipes,

and even cars for snowboarders to jump on or over. The most

important feature of these special slopes is the fact that skiers are

not allowed on them. The reason that many resorts have added

these snowboard parks is because of the problems between skiers

and snowboarders. (Feldman)

Roger Hauser, the director of Massanutten Ski School, said that

there were quite a few reasons the resort added the "snowboard

only" park five years ago. First of all, he said the mangers of the

mountain were taking a lot of "heat" from skiers because of all the




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