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Global Boardsports Market

Industry Sector



28 September 2012


Matt Bodimeade

Type of News


The global boardsports market has been forecast to hit a value of $20.5 billion by the year 2017. Although, the current global recession throws a temporary dampener on growth patterns, the boardsport market is expected to recover poise with recovery in the world economy, and expansion in sport participation rates.

Boardsports refer to activities/games that inherently involve use of 'board' as primary equipment. The most popular boardsports include surfing, skateboarding, and snowboarding that require specially designed boards. These can usually take place over a number of terrains including water, paved surfaces, land (off paved surface), snow, sand, and air.

Using data collected in the past decade, it is estimated there is 18-50 million skateboarders, 5-25 million surfers and 10-20 million snowboarders in the world. Approximately 100 million people participate in boardsports worldwide.

Surfing was the first boardsport, originating from Polynesian culture. Skateboarding was then invented by surfers looking to "surf" on land. It is hard to estimate when most boardsports were "invented" because people have been making homemade versions throughout history. For example, it is not hard to conceive of a person, who is familiar with the concept of skiing or sledding, standing sideways on a plank of wood and riding down a snow-covered slope. M.J. "Jack" Burchett is credited with first doing this in 1929, using horse reins and clothesline to secure his feet on the plank of wood.

Boardsports were historically regarded as a game of the youth, indulged predominantly by juniors in the age group of 6 to 16 years. In recent years, boardsports have soared in popularity all over the world, supported by the strong economy, rising consumer wealth, and wide TV coverage. Driven largely by undying interest of hard-core participants, popularity of elite athletes, snowboarding's inclusion in Winter Olympics, and pervasive exposure to ESPN's X-Games, boardsports continue to gain popularity.

Globally, there are more than 100 million participants in boardsports. Although boardsports can be played worldwide, few countries have built a reputation as prime boardsports destinations. Popular among them are United States, Canada, France, United Kingdom, Norway, Switzerland, Australia, and New Zealand. The multi-billion dollar boardsport industry dramatically differs across the globe with shifting regional dynamics throwing up a rich mixture of challenges and opportunities to market participants.

Of late, women have emerged as a vital segment of the boardsport population contributing to the market's overall growth. While women less frequently indulge in boardsports than average male boarders, they however spend almost the same amount of money on boardsports apparel, equipment, and accessories, and if encouraged to take up the sport have the potential to spend more. The importance of women boarders can be put into perspective by the fact that driven by their sheer buying power, women have emerged as key decision makers in the purchase of sports apparel. Manufacturers are therefore attempting to unlock the potential offered by this key consumer group by offering products promoted and designed to suit a women taste.

Key Industry Players

Major players in the global marketplace include Billabong International Limited, Gul Surf Co, Nike Skateboarding, Hurley International, O'Neill, Quiksilver Inc, Rip Curl Inc, Salomon Snowboarding, and Volcom Inc.

Billabong: A clothing company traded on the Australian Securities Exchange since 11 August 2000. Billabong was founded in 1973 by Gordon and Rena Merchant. The name came from the same word billabong, which is a stagnant body of water attached to a waterway. As well as the Billabong brand-name, the company sells surfwear and accessories under the Palmers Surf, Honolua Surf,, Von Zipper, Kustom (footwear), Nixon, Xcel Wetsuits and Tigerlily brands, and also Element skate clothing and hardware. The brands are available at various surf and skateboard stores locations.

O'Neill: An American surfboard, surfwear and equipment brand started in 1952 in San Francisco, California, which moved down the coast to Santa Cruz by the end of the decade. The company is credited with inventing the wetsuit. Jack O'neill founded the very first O'neill company. In 2007, O'neill Wetsuits Inc. sold the rights to the trademark to Logo International Inc. O'neill products are distributed internationally by a group of authorized licensed distributors worldwide.

Quiksilver: An American company based in Huntington Beach, California, one of the world's largest manufacturers of surfwear and other boardsport-related equipment. Its logo, designed by the company founder Alan Green and John Law in Torquay, Victoria, Australia in 1969, inspired by Hokusai's woodcut The Great Wave off Kanagawa consists of a large wave with a mountain on a red background. The company also produces a line of apparel for young women, under the brand Roxy, and its DC and Hawk brands are also synonymous with the heritage and culture of surfing, skateboarding and snowboarding, and its beach- and water-oriented swimwear brands include Raisins, Radio Fiji and Leilani.

Salomon Snowboarding: A sports equipment manufacturing company that originated in Annecy, France. The company was started in 1947 by François Salomon and his wife and son. In 1997 it became part of the Adidas group. On 2 May 2005, Adidas-Salomon announced that it had agreed to sell the Salomon Group for €485 million to Amer Sports of Finland. The transaction was completed on October 20, 2005. Salomon released their first snowboard in 1997 after several years of development. The first board featured a simple single-color topsheet graphic and advanced technologies adopted from the resources of the ski experts. The company built a strong team of pro riders including Daniel Frank and Michelle Taggert.

For more information on the global boardsports market, see the latest research: Global Boardsports Market

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