Declining participation in water sports activities continue to create challenges for wakeboard manufacturers. There has been a steady decline in water participation rates, as other appealing recreational activities have gained traction. According to a research conducted by the Outdoor Industry Association, over 144 million Americans participated in various types of outdoor activities at least once in 2016. However, the young adult participation in wakeboarding activities declined from 617,000 in 2015 to 572,000 in 2016. The overall participation in water sports activities declined in the U.S. in 2016, and the scenario remains similar across the globe, which may impact the growth of the wakeboard market negatively.
Wakeboarding is receiving a push from the efforts of the wakeboarding associations and water sport bodies. Nevertheless, leading organizations in the wakeboarding market, such as the World Wake Association (WWA), are putting efforts to promote wake sports across the world. By organizing amateur as well as professional wakeboard events and tournaments on a global platform, these organizations are encouraging water sports enthusiasts to participate in wakeboard activities.
Various countries in Europe are developing policies and programs to leverage excellence opportunities for the sustainable development of water sports such as wakeboarding. Also, a rising number of proposals to develop wakeboard parks with multiple facilities may boost participation in wakeboarding activities in the upcoming years. These concerted efforts may induce momentum in an otherwise sluggish market.
Wakeboard Innovation: The Key to Product Differentiation
Consumers consider a variety of factors such as length of the wakeboard, fins, and materials before making a purchase. As wakeboarding is still relatively new as compared to other water sports, demand for wakeboards for beginners is likely to remain high. As longer wakeboards are easier to ride and learn on, manufacturers are producing wakeboards with the length around 150 centimeters or above. Also, demand for compatible and comfortable bindings is likely to remain high. Market players are targeting beginners by making adjustable bindings available in the market.
Manufacturers are also experimenting with a variety of raw materials such as foam, wood core, and graphite to improve the durability and cost-efficiency of wakeboards. Apart from the length and raw materials used to manufacture wakeboards, the properties of fins have a major influence on the purchasing decisions of consumers. According to the water conditions and types of wakeboarding, the demand for depth, length, and width of fins may vary. However, considering a large number of beginner rides, manufacturers are producing larger fins that offer more stability to the new riders.
Market Players Adopting Innovative Manufacturing Strategies to Gain a Competitive Edge
To gain a competitive edge in the wakeboard market, manufacturers are introducing innovative products in the wakeboard market. Apart from product innovation, adoption innovative marketing strategies and partnering with leading dealers in various regions may remain a popular trend in the wakeboard market. Notable examples include –
- Body Glove IP Holdings LP – an American water sports brand – recently established a distribution partnership with Shiner Ltd. – a British company – to leverage Shiner’s European network for distributing the brand’s products including wakeboard equipment in Europe.
- Radinn – a wakeboard manufacturer based in Sweden – recently launched an electric wakeboard with a swappable battery. The company launched its first electric wakeboard in 2015, which could reach up to the 28mph for a full half-hour on a single charge. The company states that the second-gen electric wakeboard is capable of reaching up to 36 mph and is much cheaper than its predecessor.
- Jobe – a leading water sports brand headquartered in the Netherlands – recently introduced its new Nitro Wakeboard Bindings that can offer better control and support to the rider. The company claims that these are the most accessible and cost-efficient bindings available in the wakeboard market.
Overall, the wakeboard market continues to be in a phase of moderate growth, owing to fluctuations in consumer interest in the sport. Concerted efforts by water sports and wakeboard associations, combined with launch of aesthetically pleasing and highly functional wakeboards can induce some level of momentum in this market.
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