More bang for your buck. More features for the low end. More performance down the line. More bells and whistles for less money.
The real story in ski equipment for 2001-2002 is not high-tech gizmos, it's value. Value may not be sexy, but it's what drives sales at the meat of the market. In every line, performance, comfort and safety features that were once reserved for the top are now also found at the middle and bottom. Casual skiers, even novices, now get features experts once paid top dollar for.
Examples? Look's formerly top-end Full Drive toe is found in every Look binding for 2001-2002. Atomic's three-piece TriTech boot technology, introduced just last year, is now incorporated into every boot in the line, including juniors. Salomon has added an entirely new series of feature-rich boots at the low end. Tecnica is focusing its attention on the meat of the market with its new Rival series. Dynastar has aimed its entire marketing campaign on new skis aimed at effortless turning. Head's mantra is helping all skiers have more fun with less effort. K2 is launching the Escape series aimed at the meat of the market. The list goes on.
In fact, virtually everything the manufacturers are doing now ultimately fuels the value story. Free-flexing bindings and super-short skis and soft, comfy boots all have the effect of making the sport easier and more fun for a broader range of skiers. More bang for the buck.
On the resort side of the industry, the buzz for the past year has been all about attracting and retaining new skiers. To grow the business, we've got to find a way to nurture the sport from the bottom up, the pundits are saying. But little has been said about how equipment suppliers and retailers can join in this effort.
The answer is obvious: Sell value. It's a lot easier than you think. And ultimately, just as sexy.