The Skateboarding Industry: An Overview
In 2018, the skateboarding industry was valued at $1.9 billion -- by 2025, it's expected to skyrocket to $2.4 billion. To say the least, the skateboarding industry is massive. Not only is it massive, it's expected to grow exponentially as skating gains popularity among young people. As of now, teenagers are the primary consumers in the skateboarding industry. In 2018, kids age 12-17 accounted for about 44% of the total skateboarding industry revenue.
After football and basketball, skateboarding is the third most popular sport in the United States. A few factors have contributed to the boom of the skateboarding industry. Popular competitions such as the X Games have given the skateboarding industry increased exposure. Watching professional skaters like Tony Hawk compete inspired a generation of young skaters to take up the sport. In addition, skateboarder’s style has inspired major fashion brands that define what is cool in popular culture. Countless brands incorporate skateboarding into their marketing efforts, drawing even more people to the sport.
The international Olympic committee put deep and thorough research into what sports would engage the younger generation. The result of their research led them to choose Skateboarding which was supposed to make its Olympic debut in the 2020 Tokyo games. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Olympics have been postponed to summer of 2021 where Skateboarding will be put on the world Olympic stage for the first time!
The increased construction of skateparks also contributes to the skateboarding industry’s rapid growth. Historically, skaters have had difficulties in finding places to skate. In many communities, skateboarding is unfairly outlawed in public areas, leaving skaters with few places to hone their skills. Now, as skateparks pop up across the United States, skaters are able to practice consistently and the sport is becoming more accessible to all.
Speaking of accessibility, though skateboarding is far more popular than it used to be, many people still shy away from trying it. In many cases, skateparks and skateboarding culture can feel intimidating to outsiders. The idea of falling down on the hard concrete park in front of experienced skaters is anxiety-inducing for many. Additionally, if beginners fall down or ignore skatepark etiquette, they may get yelled at by other skaters. This embarrassment can stick around for a long time -- preventing them from trying skating again.
When compared to more traditional sports, it’s no surprise that skateboarding remains inaccessible to many. Unlike other sports, skateboarding has no established leagues, teams and coaches to help kids navigate the learning curve. Given skateboarding’s boom in popularity, there is reason to believe that the sport can become as popular as more traditional sports. In order for this to happen, kids must have access to spaces where they can learn to skate in a safe, encouraging environment. Despite all the barriers, once participants do get into skateboarding, they participate more frequently than any other sport by 30 times a year (LA84 Study).
At DIVERTbrands, we are committed to creating a place where anyone can get involved in skateboarding. We provide a safe, welcoming environment for beginners to learn the sport. New skaters can learn skate etiquette and basic skills without the intimidation factor that skateparks present. We also provide complimentary skateboards and helmets for new skaters at DIVERTsessions.
SKATEBOARDING MARKET: TRENDS
Though the United States is the global leader in the skateboarding market, recent trends indicate that skateboarding is gaining popularity abroad. Europe is home to the second-largest skateboarding consumption market share, accounting for 28% of the global market. As of now, Asia’s skateboarding market is experiencing the highest rate of growth.
According to a study done by State of Skate, Generation Z makes up the largest demographic in the skateboarding market. A key thing to note is that unlike many generations before them, GenZ does not tend to be loyal to any specific brand. GenZ’s willingness to try new products creates a space in the market for new brands to emerge.
In comparison to other consumer groups, skateboarders can be difficult to market to. Above all, skateboarders value equipment that is built soundly. Generation Z, the primary skateboarding demographic, responds well to trustworthy, quality brands that their friends endorse. In addition, skateboarders often avoid brands who mass produce skate culture. To many experienced skaters, the appropriation of skate culture is frowned upon, especially among major brands that have no connection to the sport. In addition to producing quality gear, skate brands need to be hyper-authentic and true to the culture of skateboarding.
One nontraditional, effective way to reach Generation Z skateboarders is through social media. On these platforms, skateboarding videos have brought billions of views, as many young skaters like to show off their tricks. Securing brand placement on these popular apps is a great way to get the attention of young skateboarders and build a positive brand reputation.
Like we mentioned earlier, industry professionals anticipate that the inclusion of skateboarding in the Olympics will have a profound effect on its popularity. Dubbed the “Olympic Effect” this concept is demonstrated in the rise of snowboarding after its debut in the winter Olympics.
In order for the skateboarding industry to expand to more markets, it needs to become more accessible, affordable and comfortable. At DIVERT, this principle guides the work that we do. We are committed to providing a cost-effective, supervised space for kids to learn skateboarding. Our goal is to build confidence and cultivate a sense of belonging among beginner skaters.
SKATEBOARDING BUSINESS: THE KEY PLAYERS
Some of the top skateboarding businesses include Element, Plan B, Braille, Zero, Creature, Blind, Almost, Independent, Spitfire, HUF, Primitive and Santa Cruz. These top brands are focused on product innovation and securing a larger segment of the global skateboarding market. They specialize in providing the skate gear such as decks, trucks, wheels, protective equipment and more. Obviously these products are foundational for any skater but there is another massive sector of skateboarding businesses: clothing retailers.
Alongside skateboard equipment brands, there are a number of popular retailers known for their skate apparel. Skateboarding and fashion have always gone hand in hand -- skaters pride themselves on individuality in their sport as well as their appearance. Perhaps the most famous skate apparel brand is Vans. Created in 1966, Vans is known for producing the first ever “skate shoes” which are wildly popular to this day. Despite their simplistic, consistent footwear designs, Vans has remained culturally relevant for decades. Vans sponsors skate competitions across the world and many pro-skaters dress in their footwear while competing. Though Vans appeals to a larger market than just skateboarders, they have remained true to skate culture every step of the way. Other clothing brands who reflect this ability to remain culturally relevant in the skateboarding world despite growing in size are Thrasher and Supreme.
Though there are many established skateboarding brands, many skaters remain open-minded and supportive towards emerging businesses. The skateboarding world itself is concentrated with creative, motivated people who often excel at entrepreneurship. In addition, skaters know how to appeal to other skaters. From a skateboarding business standpoint, this is a huge advantage. As we mentioned earlier, skateboarders are a notoriously difficult group to market to as they value authentic brands who accurately represent skate culture. As such, many skateboarders have excelled in launching their own skate-related ventures.