Snowboarding Sales are Tumbling

Snowboards came on the scene in the late 1970s. Popularized through a hip counterculture, equipment sales had a great ride for the next four decades, but analysts say equipment sales may have peaked in the 2008-09 winter season. PR Newswire reports sales could drop around 25 percent to $334.1 million by 2019. Blame the decline partly on fallout from the recession, partly on bad powder in key locations, and partly on aging of the trailblazing Millennials who made the sport so popular worldwide.

Europe, North America, Japan and Russia are the biggest traditional markets for snowboarding. As the Olympic Winter Games kick off, the industry is hoping new events and even more spectacular tricks will provide “big air” to the sport’s popularity, particularly in Asia. China will host the Winter Games in 2022. The Chinese Government is reportedly spending $11 billion to develop Chongli, where the games will take place, part of a strategy to build globally competitive ski resorts across China. It has set a national goal of attracting 300 million skiers to Chinese slopes by 2030, a great leap forward from the 5 million today. The snowboarding industry wants to catch that wave.

Before You Shred the Gnar, Find Out About Your Board

In TradeVistas Journeys, we like to explore how popular products are made. Where was the idea formed, who developed the technology, where did the materials come from, how many companies had a role in the product’s journey?

Most of the time, you find that products today have a global story to tell. In the modern economy, value is added to products through specialized activities from graphic design to engineering to retail services. The materials in snowboards include wood, gummy paper, fiber glass, carbon, expoxy glue, and extruded aircraft-grade aluminum sourced from a variety of countries. Snowboards – like most every other product – have value chains that spread across the globe. Boards are produced in Austria, Poland, and even Dubai.

Ride with a Goofy Foot

We are going to change things up on this ride by commenting on a blog piece from Illicit Snowboarding. While we aren’t standing behind his specific data or commentary, we like the approach the author took to find out where and how snowboards are made. The reality is nuanced and the point of the piece matches our philosophy at TradeVistas: be curious, ask the questions, and think for yourself about the international trade journey of the products you love.

So, read on:

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With props to the owner of the now dormant Illicit Snowboarding blog, the original article sans TradeVistas commentary can be found here.