Age is our friend. Contrary to our obsession with youth, its profitability and our reflective youthful behavior, the other end of the spectrum is looking more and more interesting as each year passes. For those of us who are also obsessed with staring at the horizon looking for opportunities, there continues to be a huge opportunity across the boards to expand sales, extend loyalty and develop the aging segment of the market.
Again, obsessed as we are with youth we’ve been looking at the US Census Bureau numbers and birth rates for years now to determine market growth. We’ve portended the future and we’ve seen the opportunities even in the face of not-so-good news. We reported the dip in the 10 to 14 year-old age segment a few years back and sure enough even before the economy went south skate shoe sales went in that direction. There weren’t enough 12 year-old feet to fill all those shoes that were filling retailers’ shelves.
But strap in because about ten years ago couples leaned more toward amorous behavior, which resulted in lots of little feet and prospective skateboarders. Indications from our quarterly retail reports are that sales as well as margins are picking up and as money starts to flow more freely sales will continue to rise. Money is again being spent on little feet.
Meanwhile there’s an aging phenomenon happening. Boomers have been the engine driving the economy for more than four decades now and will continue to hold up their end. While many of the heritage brands and brands like Old Guys Rule have already identified the aging surf market, there may be even more opportunities on the horizon.
Recently we were asked by a client to determine retention among surfers and we saw a number that might be approaching 70%. It comes down to 60% of surfers in the U.S. are over the age of 25. Starting age for surfers has gone from between 10 and 13 years old to 16 years old. And, the older age segments are growing each year since we’ve been counting.
It’s not just surfers who are aging. Our last Skateboard survey shows that 17% of the 9 million+ skateboarders in the U.S. are over the age of 25: 8% are between the ages of 25 and 34; 6.9% are 35 to 44 and almost 2% are over 45!
Snowboarders look the same. The thinning of available dollars may have resulted in advancing the ages of snowboarders and precluding families that snowboard, but again, there are opportunities in the older market as well. According to our last snowboard survey, 60% are over the age of 25 and almost 34% are over the age of 32.
Opportunities abound among these aging surfers, skateboarders and snowboarders. Think feet. Think shorts and T-shirts. Think shirts. And, don’t forget about the youth obsessed chicks over 35 who surf, snowboard, frequent the beach and practice the lifestyle. The “older” age segments – even in this economy – have more money to spend than their teenaged counter parts. Think margins!
A friend sent me a birthday card that said something about being like a fine wine … life just gets better with age. And, so do the opportunities.