Featured Two-Year Product Cycles

Discussion in 'Hardgoods: Skis, Bindings, Poles, and More' started by Philpug, Oct 19, 2016.

  1. Philpug

    Philpug Enjoying being back on two wheels. Admin Pugski Ski Tester

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    2 Year Cycle Petersen.jpg
    Like the ivory-billed woodpecker, the multiyear product cycle in the ski industry was thought to be extinct. But we are seeing a resurgence of two-year cycles, and IMHO, it’s about damn time! There was a day when graphics were around for three or four years; skis such as the Olin Mark Series hung on even longer, maybe a decade. The teal green Rossignol 4S was in the line for what seemed like forever; then sometime in the 90s, it went from being the company's halo ski to filling the racks at chains like Al’s Discount Sports and Appliances.

    Somewhere around the turn of the century, this all changed. With manufacturers popping up everywhere and more and more models appearing on the ski wall, companies were forced to one-up each other and get new graphics to the market yearly (what seemed like weekly).

    The perception was that everyone wants the latest and greatest, the newest and brightest, but how many times is that just NGT, aka New Graphics Technology? How important is it that graphics change every year? Well, it’s not -- and in reality, we think it is bad for the industry on all three levels: the manufacturer, the retailer, and the consumer.

    For the manufacturer: There is a cost to redesign graphics every year. It’s not so much paying a designer as it is holding focus groups, reprogramming the machines, and risking that new graphics could cost sales. There is also a cost in inventory: as the year winds down and new graphics are released, the outgoing graphics become distressed merchandise and must be discounted. Manufacturers usually go into closeout even before Christmas because new product is coming in a few weeks, which slashes their profits.

    For the retailer: Inventory is one the highest costs for a shop. The clock starts ticking as soon as product hits the ski wall, costing shops money. A two-year cycle enables them to hold their margins longer and control their ordering process better. Retailers such as Mark Beard of Wick’s Ski Shop agree that this cycle would benefit the retailers tremendously. Scott Gray (@dawgcatching) says, “It's a big reason that some shops aren't carrying skis anymore; too large of a risk” and that he would "love having two-year product cycles.”

    For the consumer: Once they see that retailers can hold their margins better, some consumers will think, "Great, now I have to pay more." Slow down, take a breath -- there will always be deals. But we all profess that we need to “support our local ski shop,” and this helps do that. It will be better than when someone drops $699 for the new blue-green Snowtopoulus XG65 only to see a skier a few weeks later sporting the XG66 with the all-new green-blue graphics. Skiers who like to resell their skis after a season will be able to command higher prices because the skis are still current. In the long run, this will keep the prices lower because of better inventory control.

    Manufacturers are not keeping everything on the same cycle, though; introductions will be staggered. For example, Rossignol's Experience and “7” collections were two very successful series; the Experiences were unchanged on odd years and the 7s (Sin/Soul/Super) unchanged on even years. When Kästle reintroduced its skis last decade, it started right out of the gate with multiple-year cycles, and I really think it helped get the company established and create momentum. We are also seeing these multi-year cycles not only in skis but also boots and bindings, where it is just as (if not more) important.

    @Dave Petersen Artwork​
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2016
  2. Muleski

    Muleski Skiing the powder Industry Insider

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    Makes all the sense in the world. It seems ludicrous that the industry moved away from two years, and longer.

    "Yeah, it has new graphics but it's been the exact same ski for the past five seasons" said the Nordica's dealer about the Patron. And many others in the rack.

    Agree, Kastle was very smart with this. Worked in their favor.

    Yes if you're an individual selling one year old skis, not ideal. By the same token, if you know what to look for, you can buy new two year old stock, two graphic designs ago, for very short money. One pair of my Bonfides was the original roll out, purchased just before they rolled out the current ski. I think it was three seasons old. Bought it in the summer for about $125. Dealer was delighted to unload them. What a drag/drain for him.

    This is a good development, IMO.
     
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  3. hbear

    hbear Getting off the lift Skier

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    Ask the golf manufactures how shorter and shorter product cycles have been helping the industry.........e.g. It's not and more and more major manufactures are bleeding money and either exiting the hardgoods business entirely (e.g. Nike) or up for sale to be divested from the parent companies due to lack of profit (e.g. Taylormade).

    I don't see how it ends up any different for the ski industry (same challenges as the golf industry).
     
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  4. mishka

    mishka Putting on skis Industry Insider

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    This what I see in many skis… While graphics change frequently everything else is not.

    if nothing changing what would entice consumer to buy new skis?
     
  5. Muleski

    Muleski Skiing the powder Industry Insider

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    Well, I don't think I know anybody who would buy the exact same ski solely because it has a new top sheet. That was not my point. The Patron has had.a pretty long run. Ski has not changed. Topsheets have yearly for 5 seasons, I think?

    Clearly a big percentage of buyers want "new" and others want "value"....like bring on the older graphics, same ski. I do know people who have stuck with a new model of the same ski. Many. Like the ski. Not sure if any would pay more for the current topsheet if they had an option.

    And it is a mess for dealers. No question. As if the business isn't enough of a challenge.

    Plus for the indies, though? Design your own graphics!
     


  6. Core2

    Core2 Out on the slopes Skier

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    I don't know about you guys but I buy all my skis based on topsheet graphics which is why I own a pair of these:

    [​IMG]




    /sarcasm
     
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  7. Cheizz

    Cheizz Craving camber Skier

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    Great ski, though
     
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  8. Mendieta

    Mendieta Master of Snowplow Moderator

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    How about "don't fix it if it ain't broke" cycles? I think the multitude of graphics with the same design makes the decision making harder, when buying skis. Sell model numbers. "Volk Mantra 3. We removed the camber. Suck it up"

    Just put the manufacturing year in a tiny print with a serial number.
     
  9. markojp

    markojp mtn rep for the gear on my feet Industry Insider Instructor

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    Here's the kicker... My favorite skis in the quiver closet, I loath replacing regardless of graphic changes, etc...
     
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  10. cantunamunch

    cantunamunch Meh Skier

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    It needs to be asked :

    Do 2-year product cycles correlate with lower numbers of product made per year?
     
  11. Philpug

    Philpug Enjoying being back on two wheels. Admin Pugski Ski Tester

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    Not sure what you are asking.
     
  12. cantunamunch

    cantunamunch Meh Skier

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    Sorry, I wasn't trying to be obscure

    - If a manufacturer intends to limit product number per year does it not also make sense to have a multi-year product cycle for that product?

    and the converse:

    - If a manufacturer intends to make market-saturation numbers of product per year, does it not also make sense to have single-year product cycles?
     
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  13. Philpug

    Philpug Enjoying being back on two wheels. Admin Pugski Ski Tester

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    - Yes it does
    But there is a cost in the long run and that is deminished percieved value and over inventory. Shops can be in a situation where at the end of the season, instrad of going 40-50% off, they might jsut go 20% and retain margin then just explain to the customer that the graphics are carrying over to next season and it's not that you are getting less of a discount now, you are getting an early discount on next years product.
     
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  14. Don in Morrison

    Don in Morrison I Ski Better on Retro Day Skier

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    I have noticed that the same ski as my Head Mojo 80 (2008) kept showing up every year with a different name and graphic design every year after that. I think they finally dropped it last year. I'm glad I bought mine when I did. The graphics on all the ones that followed have been horrible.
     
  15. fatbob

    fatbob Out on the slopes Skier

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    Graphics schmaffics - while I love to bits my Shamans, mainly for the very distinctive topsheet being a great conversation starter I would literally have anything from the vomiting clowns of that Hellbent (I did actually buy a pair of those Seths with the Seth spaghetti vomit and the evil snowman but flipped em on unskied due to quiver overlap) to plain black. In fact it's the overly racey graphics I find most offensive - I don't need go faster stripes and bold SX2000++++Speedster emblazoned on my skis.
     
  16. chemist

    chemist Falling off the lift. Skier

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    When does a a mfr. need to make a decision about the following year's cosmetics, and is it late enough that they have data on how the current year's model is selling? If yes, then if a model is selling poorly, wouldn't this info. make them more likely to go to a 1-year cycle (i.e., change the graphics)? I.e., is the system dynamic in this way?

    Alternately, consider two other cases:

    1) A ski that is selling well and looks like it's going to be rare or sold out (at retailers) by the end of the season.
    2) A ski that is selling well, but it looks like retailers will still have significant unsold stock left over (which could happen with a ski that was popular, but not as overwhelmingly popular as predicted).

    What would be the effect of knowing current-year's sales in either of these cases?
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2016
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  17. Lorenzzo

    Lorenzzo Snow Skier Skier

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    Wait...the ivory billed woodpecker isn't extinct?
     
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  18. Philpug

    Philpug Enjoying being back on two wheels. Admin Pugski Ski Tester

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    There will still be one year cycles because sometimes graphics or colors will just get missed that decision has to be made well before sell through or how the customer likes it but more from how the initial buy's are from the retailer. Focus groups are being held now for 2018-19 gear, the 2017-18 gear for the msot part is done other than some fine tuning/tweaking. If a product misses...there is always the back up plan of turning it over after the first year.
     
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  19. Muleski

    Muleski Skiing the powder Industry Insider

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    Phil, who do the do the focus groups with? What "customers?" Retailers, end users, ski areas (rental)? Do most companies do them online, or face to face "old school?" The world of consumer insight, etc. has changed so much.

    I bet there is a lot of research being done as to just how a skier makes a buying decision, and who influences it. Used to be one model, one channel for the most part. Wide open field now.

    Thanks.
     
  20. Philpug

    Philpug Enjoying being back on two wheels. Admin Pugski Ski Tester

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    Depends on the manufacturers, some use fashion groups, some use skiers, some use their own athletes. The truly sad thing is the final decision usually comes down to the buyer of the shop which tends to be a 50+ year old white guy deciding what women want in their graphics. Is it this guy who decide that women cannot spell? Love=Luv, SuperBurning=SuperBurnin', Attraction=Atraxion, Thing= Thang, Myah=Mya?
     
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