Have Senior Skiers Been Abandoned? The Wrinkled Irrelevants…

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My fellow Geezers, we brought this on ourselves. Back in the Hey Days of the 70s and 80s, we represented the youthful exuberance that was the core of the sport. To this day, thanks in part to us, The Industry still sees itself as youthfully exuberant. In the following quote from Snowsports Industries America (SIA), they write seniors skiing off and turn to face a youthful market.

“… Nowadays, they (Boomers) are encouraging grandchildren to ski and snowboard and are buying snowsports gear for the family. Although as participants, they were once prolific; as a target audience today their roles as elders in the family are most likely more important than their personal participation behavior in snow sports….”

That is a bold statement in light of the findings of the National Ski Area Association’s study represented in the chart below. The Industry still expects you will encourage young people to participate, buy their gear, and pay for their winter vacations.

They just aren’t encouraging YOU, the senor skier, to participate. You’re done, washed up. The Wrinkled Irrelevant. And yet, we ride an average of 26.7% more days per season than The Industry average.

The ongoing issue is the way in which the industry chooses to define itself, by “generation”. A handy pigeon hole perhaps, but it is strategically misguided.

The SIA DCIP document identifies senior skier/riders over 55 as making up 10% of the total market. Yet, when drawing their conclusions, they say that Boomers make up only 5% of the “downhill” market. Which is it, 5% or 10%? Don’t confuse yourself. This ain’t Common Core. It’s Common Sense.

The chart shows the 55+ market segment is holding 16.7% of the market. That is significantly more than SIA’s 10%. I would go with the NSAA numbers because the ticket window gives them the best view of the market.

The chart also shows that the only segment that has grown over the last 10 years is…Geezers. The SIA’s ballyhooed youth under 25 have declined 5%. That suggests SIA’s assumption that seniors are bringing their grandkids to the sport may only be wishful thinking.

kotke-demographics
On the other end of the spectrum, folks 55 and older have increased 5.5%. It is significant that the average age of snowsports participants continued to rise to 38.4. Most importantly, the total market is comprised of individuals who are all continually aging. Here is a senior skier in all of use just waiting to emerge!

The Industry loses nearly 20% of its market between 45 and 55 years of age. I would call that a “magic moment” for a marketing opportunity!

Studying the chart, The Industry loses 19% of its customers between 45 and 54. Physical, psychological and economic issues related to aging have a dramatic effect on the senior skier’s decision to remain in our sport. We get promoted. We sit behind desks. The kids need cars and tuition for college. It piles up and the sport loses a customer.

This severe drop out happens 20 years before The Industry is willing to tell itself that aging is a business problem and address it.

When you do reach the magic age of 55, The Industry is willing to tell itself that seniors skiing isn’t relevant? I will suggest that with advancements in equipment, technique, medicine, and health maintenance, a 45-year old skier has 30 years or more of participation left. Is The Industry willing to write off senior skiers with 30 or more years left as customers? The evidence is clear that it is.

The Industry is working hard to bring fewer and fewer young people into the sport only to glibly let them slip away as they age. That is strikingly, irrevocably myopic.

Here’s the deal Snowsports Industry, Geezers will continue to keep you afloat while you figure it out. But, we don’t have all day, OK?

Paraphrasing from Theodore Leavitt’s “The Marketing Imagination” Business has only two objectives, get new customers, and KEEP THEM

It is easier and cheaper to KEEP a customer than it is to create a new one.

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5 thoughts on “Have Senior Skiers Been Abandoned? The Wrinkled Irrelevants…

    1. That’s part of the problem. Research is all over the map. NSAA changed research firms the year after this chart was done. I haven’t seen any of their data since then. It’s clear it hasn’t affected much of anything

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