Snowmobile Enthusiast Psychographics and Trends

Part
01
of two
Part
01

Snowmobile Cultural Trends

The two prominent snowmobile cultural trends as identified in this research include the lack of avalanche education among the snowmobile enthusiasts and the growth of rental culture in snowmobiling.

CULTURAL AND SUBCULTURAL TRENDS IN THE SNOWMOBILE SPACE

1. LACK OF AVALANCHE EDUCATION AMONG SNOWMOBILE ENTHUSIASTS

  • In Wyoming, United States, avalanches have reportedly killed 32 snowmobilers till date, constituting the highest number of fatalities in the area, ahead of backcountry skiers (formerly the largest group of victims with 26 deaths).
  • According to WyoFile, this increase is because skilled riders on modern, light, and high-powered snowmobiles with long tracks and deep-snow paddles are venturing in higher numbers into more dangerous terrain.
  • WyoFile also noted that those entering these terrains often do so without potentially life-saving avalanche training, and very few of these riders have adequate education and understanding of avalanche dynamics.
  • This phenomenon was noted in other snowmobiling parts of the world as well. In the North Rockies Snowmobiling zones of Canada, only 21.5% of respondent groups surveyed were found to be carrying all avalanche essentials.
  • Apart from Wyoming, other areas of the United States also reported snowmobile avalanche fatalities during the 2018-19 winter season. However, Wyoming and Utah topped the charts with three deaths followed by one each in Montana and Idaho.
  • Hanke started Soul Rides in an attempt to spread knowledge of safe backcountry use among snowmobilers and has acknowledged the lack of avalanche education within the snowmobile cultures of Japan, Norway, and Sweden.

WHY IT IS CONSIDERED A TREND

  • This topic is considered a trend because of the lack of education and adoption of proper safety measures was found to be on the rise in recent years.
  • Will Mook launched the Mountain Riding Lab in Jackson Hole to instruct snowmobilers on avalanche awareness and rescue, and has noted that despite snowmobile taking the lead in avalanche fatalities, “the education hasn’t caught up to it yet.”
  • The phenomenon of not carrying safety equipment, which stems from the lack of education also saw a dip. This insight is obtained from the fact that during the winter of 2017-18, 18% of the victims did not have transceivers. In 2018-19 that figure increased to a whopping 63%.

2. GROWTH OF RENTAL CULTURE IN SNOWMOBILING

  • According to the report published by ISMA, or International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association, in 2018 the GoSnowmobiling site received more than 2.4 million visits, showing the great interest in snowmobiling.
  • Out of these visits, 40% were new snowmobilers or individuals who do not own a snowmobile.
  • However, this 40% of visitors expressed a great deal of interest in owning a snowmobile and going snowmobiling.
  • Furthermore, 20% of the visitors to the site visited the rental outlet pages of the website. However, many of the individuals did not own a snowmobile but were interested in renting one during their winter vacation.
  • This high level of interest in renting was observed as an indicator of the anticipated growth in the snowmobile rental market.

WHY IT IS CONSIDERED A TREND

  • This growth has been considered a trend because there was a continual decrease in the number of new snowmobile sales. The number of recorded sleds sold was almost 128,000 in 2016.
  • Also, the numbers decreased further in 2017 to 118,657 sales.
  • However, on the other side of this decrease, the enthusiasm relating to snowmobiling seemed to stay remarkably constant.
  • Also, ISMA found snowmobile-related tourism to be increasing in North America and beyond.
  • The growth in snowmobile tourism, combined with the continuous decrease in new snowmobile sales over the years, confirms the growing space of the renting culture as a trend.

RESEARCH STRATEGY

To find out the trends as asked for in the request, we began by looking into market research reports as published by sources such as MarketResearch.com, MarketsandMarkets, Mordor Intelligence, GM Insights and those reported in sites such as PR Newswire, GlobeNewsWire, Business Wire, and PRWeb, among others. Although, there were reports which mentioned trends on sites such as Fact.MR and MarketWatch, among others, we could not access the info, as it was behind a paywall.

We then looked into reports, whitepapers, publications, and articles published by the International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association (ISMA), and those published in sites such as GoSnowmobiling.com and other regional associations such as the New Hampshire Snowmobiling Association (NHSA).

From the reports and data-based analyses obtained from these sites, we gathered much information which indicated trends in terms of recent change. However, since these reports often did not describe these phenomena as trends, in particular, we corroborated the information obtained from these sites with other reports obtained from sites such as sporting sites which analyzed snowmobiling as a sport with changing traits such as Powersports Business. We looked into academic sites that analyzed it from the perspective of sporting culture such as those found in Academia, ResearchGate, and SemanticScholar, among others. We also looked into the regional newspaper reports covering snowmobiling for regions known for snowmobiling such as WyoFile. With the information obtained from all these sources, we built the trends, while excluding information already mentioned in the strategy document.

While the trend related to the lack of avalanche education was found to be recent, that relating to the increase in renting culture is also recent as the 2018 report expected it to grow in the future.

Part
02
of two
Part
02

Snowmobile Enthusiasts-Buying Behavior Trends

Purchase behavior trends among snowmobile enthusiasts from around the world include the preference of first-time buyers for used snowmobiles, the growing demand for specialty stores, and the preference of consumers for one-to-three seater snowmobiles with engine capacities below 500 cc. There are several factors deterring interested consumers from buying their own snowmobiles, and they are the prohibitive costs of snowmobiles and snowmobiling gear, the lack of snow, and the likelihood of snowmobiles becoming outdated after only a few years.

TREND 1: PREFERENCE OF FIRST-TIME BUYERS FOR USED SNOWMOBILES

  • There is a clear preference for used snowmobiles among first-time snowmobile buyers.
  • Seventy-three percent of first-time snowmobile buyers bought a used snowmobile. The rest bought a new snowmobile.
  • This preference for used snowmobiles may be explained by the fact that fist-time snowmobile buyers are typically young adults, who, compared to older adults, have smaller disposable income in general.
  • Many of these first-time snowmobile buyers move on to buy a brand new snowmobile "later in life."

TREND 2: GROWING DEMAND FOR SPECIALTY STORES

  • The specialty store segment of the global snowmobile market is expected to expand during the period 2017-2022. By 2022, the size of the segment will be just below $580 million.
  • These details suggest that, if prices do not drastically change, the number of snowmobiles purchased at specialty stores will increase during the forecast period. These details may also mean that more and more snowmobile enthusiasts are buying snowmobiles at specialty stores.
  • Snowmobiles have four purchase channels, namely, sport stores, franchised stores, specialty stores, and online stores.
  • In 2017, the specialty store channel accounted for over a third of the global snowmobile market, while the online store channel accounted for nearly a fourth of the market. Online stores are quite popular among North American snowmobile enthusiasts.

TREND 3: PREFERENCE FOR <500 CC SNOWMOBILES WITH 1, 2, OR 3 SEATS

  • Snowmobile enthusiasts appear to favor snowmobiles with '<500 cc' engine capacity and one to three seats.
  • The global snowmobile market is dominated by the '<500 cc' engine capacity segment. In 2017, the '<500 cc' segment accounted for nearly 70% of the global snowmobile market, while the '500 cc to 800 cc' segment accounted for only 16% of the market. This information suggests that snowmobile enthusiasts prefer to buy snowmobiles with engine capacities below 500 cc.
  • Both the North American and European markets for the '<500 cc' engine capacity segment are projected to reach $140 million by the end of 2022. On the other hand, the Asia Pacific market, excluding Japan, is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4.3% during the period 2017-2022.
  • As Europe has affluent consumers who can afford to pay a premium for higher performance and quality, its market for the '800 cc and above' engine capacity segment is expected to expand at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 3.5% during the period 2017-2022.
  • Most consumers prefer 1-, 2-, or 3-seater snowmobiles. Of the different seating capacities, the 1-seater and 2-seater are the most popular. The 5-seater and 6-seater are niche seating capacity segments, with the 5-seater segment accounting for only around 12% of the global snowmobile market.
  • By 2022, the 1-seater and 2-seater segments are expected to reach $117 million and $100 million, respectively, in the North American market alone. The Latin American and Asia Pacific markets for the 1-seater segment, excluding Japan, are expected to grow but are not expected to surpass the North American market.

ADDITIONAL INSIGHTS

  • The typical snowmobiler spends approximately $2,000 a year on snowmobiling-related recreation. It is not clear, however, how this amount splits between experiences and product purchases.
  • Cost-consciousness or price sensitivity is higher in Latin America, so consumers in this region may prefer entry-level snowmobiles.
  • In 2017, entry-level snowmobiles accounted for a fourth of the global snowmobile market. By 2022, the entry-level snowmobile segment is expected to reach $430 million.
  • Both entry-level and mountain snowmobiles are growing in popularity. Together, they accounted for over 40% of the global snowmobile market in 2017.
  • Mild winters or the lack of snow, the prohibitive prices of snowmobiles and snowmobiling gear, and the fast pace of technology upgrades deter interested consumers from purchasing their own snowmobiles.
  • Consumers are skeptical of buying snowmobiles when they do not see enough snow. With prices reaching $15,000 or more and gear costing around $500, new sleds and snowmobiling are out of reach for most consumers, particularly younger enthusiasts. A new sled can also become outdated after only four to five years.
  • It appears families no longer make multi-sled purchases for these same reasons. Some consumers voice that they would rather rent than buy snowmobiles.

RESEARCH STRATEGY

As the purchase behavior of consumers is often determined through surveys, surveys were the first type of source we looked for. We figured we could compare surveys from different years and check if trends or patterns can be observed. Unfortunately, we found only one relevant survey, one that was conducted by the International Snowmobile Manufacturers Association (ISMA). We could not locate the actual survey, but an article published by the association mentions the survey and provides a few insights about first-time snowmobile buyers. ISMA has a fact book as well, but all we could gather from this source is the amount the average snowmobile spends on snowmobile-related recreation each year.

We proceeded to look for industry reports, as these reports sometimes include trends. Helpful reports are in short supply, however, and the only useful source we found was Fact.MR's press release describing the firm's report on the global snowmobile market. From this report, we were able to gather a number of insights about the dominant purchase channels, engine capacities, seating capacities, and product types. We used these insights to draw conclusions about the preferences and purchase behavior of snowmobile consumers. We assume that consumers buying snowmobiles (i.e., willing to pay thousands of dollars for a snowmobile) can be considered snowmobile enthusiasts. Articles detailing how snowmobile enthusiasts purchase snowmobiles and what trends drive this behavior are scarce. We only came across one article stating that weather, cost, and the fast pace of technology upgrades deter interested people from actually buying their own snowmobiles.


Sources
Sources

From Part 01
Quotes
  • "Avalanches have killed 32 snowmobilers in Wyoming throughout history compared to 26 backcountry skiers, formerly the largest group of victims, according to the Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center at Teton Village. Two snowmobilers who died on Togwotee Pass this winter are among the victims documented by the National Forest avalanche laboratory that has compiled records that stretch back to 1877."
  • "The numbers underscore a notion that has emerged over recent years — that skilled riders on modern, light, high-powered snowmobiles with long tracks and deep-snow paddles are venturing in higher numbers into more dangerous terrain, often without potentially life-saving avalanche training. Fewer riders have adequate education about, and understanding of avalanche dynamics compared to other user groups, like backcountry skiers, experts say."
  • "So, it’s important to continue to get support from the snowmobile community … including the manufacturers, to reach out and educate and give these people the resources to make the good decisions,” Comey said."
  • "We have been, unfortunately, taking the lead almost for the last decade,” among avalanche deaths, Mook said of snowmobilers. “The education hasn’t caught up to it yet."
  • "If you don’t even know you need to take a class, it’s not something you think about,” she said. “It’s probably harder at this moment to break into that snowmobile culture. You need the right messengers, instructors. I think there’s quite a bit of opportunity."
Quotes
  • "There is stillroom to improve upon the avalanche education, awareness and preparedness of the North Rockies snowmobiling community. As only 21.5% of respondent groups surveyed are carrying all avalanche essentials (transceiver, probe and shovel). "
  • " It behooves AC to understand the efficacy and outreach their avalanche bulletin imparts and to continue to increase their social engagement, new product development like the MIN and generate public awareness."
Quotes
  • "It’s taken years for this industry to understand the implications of making machines that can effortlessly take human beings into dangerous terrain and avalanche conditions."
  • "Yet for some reason, Avalanche awareness has only propelled itself forward through personal passion by a dedicated few industry leaders who have stepped up and have stood on the rooftops to shout"
Quotes
  • "In 2004 Hanke was buried in an avalanche while sledding with friends. He had fallen asleep under the snow, tongue in the back of his throat, when his friends finally pulled him out."
  • "Six years later, in an attempt to spread knowledge of safe backcountry use, he started the business Soul Rides and geared it toward the fastest growing group of mountain users — sledders."
  • "With Japan just opening the backcountry to motorized use, and Norway as well, and Sweden with a strong snowmobiling culture, there is a lack of education in the area,” Hanke says. After teaming up with Swedish outerwear company TOBE [To Be], they discovered the need for education among sledders. “There is the opportunity to go over there and help shift a culture before fatalities increase."
Quotes
  • "While the age and enthusiasm seems to stay remarkably constant, the industry has not. In 1978 there were a reported 228,000 sleds sold worldwide. That number dropped to 150,000 by 1992, hitting more than 260,000 sales just five years later. Sales figures for 2016 indicate almost 128,000 sleds were sold around the snow world."
Quotes
  • " Overall, new snowmobile sales for the 2017 season were 118,657 worldwide compared to 126,972 in 2016."
Quotes
  • "Snowmobile related tourism also increased in North America and beyond. This can be seen in economic impact studies conducted throughout North America by major business colleges and universities."
  • "The Go Snowmobiling website serves as another strong indicator for the interest in snowmobiling. This year, the Go Snowmobiling site received more than 2.4 million hits. 40 percent of those visitors to the website were new snowmobilers or individuals who do not own a snowmobile but are expressing a great deal of interest in owning a snowmobile and going snowmobiling."
  • "20 percent of the visitors to the site visited the rental outlet pages of the site. Indications are that many of the individuals visiting the rental site do not own a snowmobile but want to rent one during their winter vacation. This high level of interest in renting bodes well for future sales and the growth in the snowmobile rental market. "