Over the last couple of months I have sat through a number of focus group sessions on cutting edge gear. Skis, ski mountaineering, clothing and climbing gear. Everyone from manufactures and designers to pro athletes in attendance. I got to talk with a lot of athletes, pros and semi pros and very experienced "amateurs". Lots of them.
Think about this? Dynafit is leading the BC ski boot industry with a $1000 retail boot. DPS Pure skis are $1500 retail. And both worth every penny imo. Arcteryx has a number of $600 ski jackets and top out at $800. Some European companies coming in at $1000 plus on down hill ski jacket systems. Patagonia has a few jackets past $500, which might seem like a bargain in comparison.
$200 sun glasses the norm?
Lets be honest, the days of "there is no money" in the Outdoor Industry is over. Has been for a while now, even through a tough world wide recession.
The market has changed. 17 year old kids aren't likely buying $1000 ski boots. Their parents are. Even more likely if Jonny's Dad will buy him that $1000 ski boot, he is just as likely to buy it first for himself these days.
The Chamonix Guide, that you must convince, what you have, is what he needs.
Ever heard of the "baby boomers"? Well let me tell ya, they are the greatest generation of elitist pricks the industry has ran into and likely ever will. Lucky for you/us!
Here is why. It takes some pretty amazing technology to get "us" to buy anything. But when you realise that dropping a pound or two in gear and upping the performance a LOT is possible...dollars mean nothing. Assuming you happen to have access to those dollars. And we do. Cash or charge? Either way the disposable income is there when you get gray hair.
I hear over and over again that the newest cutting edge gear was aimed at the "elite" of the sport. That "elite" means the young. BS! Yes Bullllllll Shit!
A good sports car, good Scotch and a good powder day is wasted on the "young". Simply no appreciation for what the bad ones are yet. If you had really thought about it, the market for that cutting edge gizmo that you are talking about behind closed doors, is for the guy with money in his pocket. Any guy with money in his pocket. That would be the guy in the ice park and the guy now taking the swing into side country skiing.
That would most certainly include the 40 something skiing off the Midi. Or the 40 something hard chargers at Crystal Mtn or Jackson Hole back here in the States, The same places where I first saw the TLT5 being used.
The guides and climbers I saw on the first season of the TLT P in Chamonix? Pro discounts of course. The guys dropping in off a lift?...FULL retail of course!
I am here to tell you. 40 years of alpine ice, water ice and lift served and BC skiing I am doing it better now and having more fun at it because of the "cutting edge" gear available. Simply because I took to heart a comment a buddy of mine made a decade or so ago, about gear, "OPEN YOUR MIND!"
My take is the out door industry needs to stop, rewind, reboot and rethink who they are building for and where the money is coming from.
The real goal of any of us in the outdoor industry should be education. We need to make the cutting edge gear the norm..simply because it makes the sport (sports) more fun and the energy required to participate less. We need to make that gear the norm by educating the consumer why that new gear is worth the money. "You can climb harder, you will ski better and you will be more comfortable while doing it". "Open your mind!" How hard is it to say that? Even easier to actually experience and believe.
That "gear" is exactly what makes the cutting edge accomplishments of the the newest generation of youngsters possible. Pays to remember that.