The Impact of Snowboarding on Retail Marketing

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 dadís 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 1980ís 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 Xíers 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 1960ís 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