Why the surf industry should forget surf and get into wellness, say experts.
The surf industry, like skate and snow, rides the boom-bust cycle with precise timing. One year it’s up, the next it’s down. Up, down, up down. It’s a roller-coaster. Always has been, always will.
Wanna know why? Because it’s a sport.
And some years the kids are riding scooters, sometimes it’s skateboards, sometimes it’s a surfboard. But there’s a base level of surfers, millions of us, enough to keep the meters ticking, the tills buzzing, the websites clicking. It’s only when companies go public, and they become beholden to the mantra of perpetual profitability, and they suck and suck onto a rapidly withering teat, that panic buttons are pushed. Non-surf CEOs hired; entire boards sacked.
You know the stories:
Quiksilver, six hundred mill and debt and thrown into Chapter 11.
Billabong, saved from the brink.
Surf Stitch, worst performing company on the Australian Stock Exchange. Sued by the very people trying to buy it.
The need to feed shareholders’ expectations and dumb acquisitions brought ’em all to the point of ruin.
Anyway, retail analysts interviewed by The Sydney Morning Herald in a story called How the Surf Brands Missed the Wellness Wave say all the misery of sackings and restructuring could’ve been avoided if they’d just started punching out yoga pants. One point five bill a year in “wellness” biz in Australia alone.
Let’s examine etc.
Retail analyst Steve Kulmar said the proliferation of the major surf brands ultimately undermined the integrity of the labels and robbed them of their unique value but he said they also missed the chance to hitch their brands to the wellness trend.
This created a chance for the active wear sector and he said this slice of the apparel market was growing exponentially.
“All the growth in apparel is in active wear; it’s trans-seasonal and people are prepared to pay for it” Mr Kulmar said.
He said wellness had been identified as one of the key growth areas in retail and this was in stark contrast to the “macho, extreme sports profiles” of the big surf brands.
“It’s just another chapter in the pretty sad state that the surf industry is in at the moment,” one analyst said.
Meanwhile, the wellness titan and bullishly expansionist Lululemon has moved into surf.
What’s the greater atrocity? Lululemon Surf or Billabong/Quik Yoga?