Targeting the Gen Y Snow Sports Market

Generation Y represents a major opportunity for the snow sports industry, but vendors and retailers need to rethink their products and pitches to appeal to the segment, said experts at the Snowsports Industries America panel, speaking last week at the Windy City Ski and Snowboard Show in Shaumberg, Ill.

Gen Y, ages 18 to 30, make up 40 percent of all snow sports participants, according to SIA data. And its members are group oriented and team-activity oriented, and “don’t respond to a top-down sales pitch,” said Emily O’Hara, a market research associate with SIA. “They are easier sold on an experience than a product.” O’Hara added that both sales clerks and vendors should focus their selling efforts on describing the experiences a product offers.

Additionally, O’Hara said Gen Y and the following generation, Gen Z (consumers born after 2001), are technology-oriented and want to document their exploits: a mindset that believes “it didn’t happen if you can’t prove it.” To that end, products that track and measure performance, record exploits, or even connect them to their phones on the slopes, will be key drivers in products for 2014. 

Other key points presented in the 2011-2012 SIA Participation Report (with data produced by the Physical Activity Council):

• 8 million of the 70 million Gen Yers participate in snow sports.

• 4.1 million participated at least once in snowboarding, the most popular snow sport for Gen Y, in 2011-2012.

• 3.6 million participated at least once in alpine skiing during the same time period.

• Gen Y represents $200 billion in annual spending power.

• 75 percent have a profile on a social networking site.

• 97 percent have a mobile phone, and 72 percent have a smartphone.

• 41 percent have made a purchase using a smartphone.