Just thought I would post up an update about Mvmt and how things are
going with the the company here in North America. As most of you may know
this is really only our third season completed in this market so we are
really just beginning..still. I have to say it has been tough this year
even with such great snow everywhere. We entered the ski market in
North America with a profound belief that ski shops everywhere would be
psyched to support a brand of ski that has a real story...not hype. A
story of quality, committed design, our own factory (i.e.control of
quality and materials), a commitment to being environmentally
responsible, super durable....etc etc.
I mean we have heard a lot
of bitching over the years from retailers about how the major brands
suck, have been poorly made, are all marketing hype with no real
substance, they are always on sale, high return rates, etc. etc. blah, blah, blah.
guess what, specialty ski retail doesn't mean "specialty". In other
words, ski shops generally are not interested in supporting smaller
companies...all they want is maximum margin with no effort or work on
their part to sell or position the products. They want their ski suppliers to finance a team, buy tons of marketing in the mags, sponsor numerous events, give away lots of spiffs to the store staff to sell the product, all with little or no risk to the retailer. Which is understandable in
some regards...it is a tough business. But this is part of the problem for the ski industry and why it is in trouble despite record nos. of skier visits. Rossignol, Salomon, Fischer, Atomic, Head...pick one company who is financially sustainable based only on their ski products right now....very difficult to find even one. And these companies have been doing it for a long, long time. There are a lot of smart people who work in these companies who know their business but they are struggling to survive. (Note:recent stats from SIA show equipment sales in the US down or flat in virtually all categories while apparel sales were up substantially). The health of the ski companies worldwide is not good...not good at all.
While at the retail level (where the rubber meets the road), it seems so obvious
that in the face of intense competition from the big box guys and the
internet, that the smaller independent retailers would want to support
something different...something that speaks to the core skier,
competitively priced, nicely made, no bullshit marketing...honest very good product. The general health of ski shops is not good either, according to one report, over
1500 specialty ski shops have closed in the US since 1990! If
true...that is huge.But does the skiing customer really care a damn about any of this or do they just want the cheapest possible product/price combo regardless of where it is made, how it is made, how well it actually works or lasts. In our throwaway society, Wal Mart driven consumerism ethos is that all that skiing is as well? We sure hope not.
Fact is, we had a hard
time getting the support we expected for next year. We worked super hard to educate,
gain awareness in the market. We did very well in all the tests for the
mags and expect even better results next year. We have been told that we were one of only two brands with increased business in Colorado for next year (we have not yet been able to verify that for sure).
So what to do?
we keep beating our heads against the wall with a number of the ski retailers
who only want us to do is to make cheaper quality skis and drop prices so they can sell at
higher margins it would compromise why we entered the business in the first place. Besides we can't afford to do that since the skis cost
more to make than the competition (especially made in China skis) with higher quality materials etc. If
we drop our prices to what they want, we simply cannot stay in
business. So we are between a rock and a hard place. The ski shops love the story, love the skis, love the quality, etc...but at the end of the day...money talks! Not commitment to quality and design, not commitment to values and vision, commitment to core skiers.
There are a lot of skiers out there who want the
product. We have had some good success for sure and we are not trying
to be the biggest ski company in the world rather, we just want to be
really good in our niche. Big mountain skiers rule.
It is an
interesting position to be in and in all the years I have been in the
business I find it quite perplexing about what to do next in our
efforts to bring the Movement (pardon the pun) to the brothers and
sisters of the ski world. And please don't get me wrong, there are some great retailers out there that are our partners who do believe that better...is well...better! And that their customers are discerning and don't get sucked into the hype and BS. But unfortunately they are few in number. Just like the truly committed skiers out there.
So we will keep you posted as we go. If you have any thoughts or ideas please send them our way we would love to hear from you.