Amer targets action sports for 2012

The parent company of Salomon, Atomic and Arc'Teryx wants to attract more youth consumers in 2012. Amer's strategy relies on an action sports focus.

The head of Amer Sports, parent to outdoor and wintersports brands Salomon, Atomic and Arc’teryx, said his company needs to a better job attracting the youth market.

The road to that goal in 2012 and beyond is through action sports, Amer CEO Heikki Takala told investors in the company’s annual report, released Tuesday.

“Action sports is a large and dynamic market driven by young people who skate, surf and snowboard, or who are inspired by these activities and by the lifestyle,” Takala stated. “This market is becoming one of the key focus areas for us.”

Amer already has moved on the initiative with its December 2011 acquisition of Nikita, a snowboarding-inspired action sports apparel brand, which concentrates on young female consumers. The brand will join Amer’s Salomon Snowboards and its sister Bonfire Snowboarding apparel in the action sports effort.

While the traditional outdoor and wintersports crowd might wince at more action sports industry intrusion, it’s clear that more companies, such as The North Face and now Amer, see the segment as a key entry point to the youth market. Specialty outdoor and wintersports retailers are seeing, if not always picking up on, the opportunity as well — increasingly being exposed to more action sports exhibitors, such as Billabong and Burton, at trade shows like Outdoor Retailer.

The question ahead for both manufacturers and retailers is whether, and, if so, how, action sports can serve as an effective gateway activity to the outdoors.

–David Clucas