What are the three biggest trends you see shaping the market and what are you doing to meet them?
- Integration – We are seeing more players who are moving to develop both helmets and goggles in conjunction. As a historic leader in the goggle market and an early entrant and number two player in helmets, Smith takes a leadership stance in this category. We are continually pushing the boundaries of integrating performance and style.
- Multi-Sport – There is a growing interest and market for multi-sport helmets, as consumers become more adventurous with their mountain activities and look to simultaneously streamline their gear closets. We're introducing the Gage at the January 2012 tradeshows which targets this multi-sport community.
- Multi-Impact – Historically, all helmets have been single-impact helmets. We are now seeing appearances of multi-impact helmets on the market. Unfortunately for consumers, there is no existing multi-impact standard for these helmets to meet. They can be tested to the existing single-impact standards (ASTM 2040 and CE EN 1077:2007), but after the first impact it is impossible to know how they will perform. For this reason, Smith has not yet brought a multi-impact helmet to the market.
For the upcoming season, what is your brand doing to differentiate itself?
For Smith Helmets, it’s always about integration. As a leader in both helmets and goggles, we have a unique opportunity to created fully integrated systems for your day on the hill. Our backyard is the Sawtooth Mountains, not I5, and with our Prospecting Idaho zone we're able to test our gear with our top athletes before we bring it to market.
What new technologies are you introducing to your line?
With helmets, achieving the perfect fit (every time) can make or break a user’s experience. We recognize that importance, and continue to strive to achieve the best fit, through both the Smith headform, as well as fit system innovation. Between this season and last season, we’ve introduced three new fit systems to our line including our best in class Boa® Fit System. These fit systems will take what was already a great fit, and make it even better.
From your perspective, how concerned are consumers with helmet certifications?
At Smith, we have a relationship with our consumer which has been built on trust. They trust us to be concerned about helmet certifications, and finding the best protection for them – so they don’t have to be. We rigorously test our helmets and print all certifications. We've never brought a helmet to market that wasn't fully certified. We provide shop employee training, and when completed indemnify that shop from any issues arising from Smith helmet manufacturing and offer a 25 million dollar insurance policy that protects and indemnifies against a product liability event.
What trends do you anticipate in the realm of graphics, themes, and colors?
We look at our goggle/helmet production as an integrated process, from fit and function to graphics and colors so there aren't major differences between the trends we're seeing helmets and goggles.
All-over graphics are still around, but we're seeing clean, refined graphics with a higher level of design and trend-on color pallets. Details are key as well and the fabrics, textures, and accoutrements on our helmets tie in with our goggle collection.
What trends have you detected with regards to sale volumes?
With increasing awareness of helmet use over the past several years, the market for helmets and helmet sales volumes in general have been locked into a growth stage. We expect this to continue into the foreseeable future. Consumers are recognizing the importance of on-hill protection, and keeping people safe is a good business to be in.
Questions answered by Lindsey Johnson, Helmet Product Manager