Two recent articles on LaPlagnet.com by Sophie Nicholson reported on multiple trends to watch for in the 2012-2013 ski season. Here are some highlights:
Increased focus on safety and changes in insurance: Nicholson reports that in recent years there has been a cultural shift towards more snowboarders and skiers wearing helmets as there has been increased attention to brain and spinal injuries. She cites research that 77 percent of British skiers now wear helmets and at least one travel insurance company is requiring their use for clients. Additionally, more manufacturing companies are including advanced avalanche survival products into their gear, such as Mammut, Dakine and The North Face.
Backcountry ski popularity continues to rise: Nicholson also cites the increased interest in back country skiing as impetus for increased safety gear, pointing to some recent examples:
The backcountry sector of the ski industry is experiencing enormous growth and the recent $43.5m purchase of mainstream protective gear manufacturer POC by outdoor/adventure equipment maker Black Diamond is a pretty serious indication of the way things are going. The backcountry sector is becoming so powerful that even the traditional and mainstream ski brands such as Scott and Salomon are adding avalanche probes, shovels, alpine touring boots/bindings, and ski mountaineering specific helmets to their product range. Another example of the popularity of freeride and off piste ski touring can be found in the case of US company Flylow. In a tough economy where some of biggest names are shedding product lines - as happened recently with Burton Snowboards - this Colorado-based backcountry/freeride specific clothing manufacturer have been picking up a series of accolades and awards in North America for their apparel and are now expanding into Europe this winter.
Increased focus on personalization to the customer: A trend we've also reported on, this shift is clearly more accessible to gear and retail outfitters and is well-suited to the ski industry. From personalized gear and fittings, to blogs about how to get the most out of your new gear, companies are increasing their contact and reach to customers beyond the point of sale and providing them with products individually suited to them.