This is a second part of conversation with Jorge Vidal, founder of Bonés Skiroll , where we talk about what it takes to build the brand from scratch and where the whole rollerski industry is going.
– What’s your main development goal as a company, what’ that niche on the market you’re aiming to take?
– Our core business is recreational use, aimed at people who are making transition from other sports like cycling, trail running or ski mountaineering, the people who want hard workout that does not impact joints. We know a lot about that, about the feeling you have when you start and what you need, because we are beginners too. If you focus too much on professional use, saying things like “best rollerskis in the world”, it is most likely that a newcomer would not feel any difference – you as a producer, however, would need to invest quite a lot to achieve that extra “best rollerskis” bit.
On the other hand, this year we have launched our models with carbon, focused on professional training. We are really happy with them and we’re happy with reviews we get from professional skiers and bi-athletes who have tested and are starting to use them. Those are not the models for beginners – but yes, it’s our way to tell to customers that we could come up with something that is as good as any other brand on the market. Now many national teams are interested on those models and they are already testing them.
To promote our brand in Spain, we have started to develop rollerskis for races. Now we have the WorldRace, one of the lightest and fastest skate rollerski, also in use in the World Cup races and many FIS races too.
But once again, this is not our core business – it helps us a lot to develop our products. Thanks to the races, where rolleskis are subjected to extreme stress, we understand better the behaviour of some materials. Let’s say that is like Formula1 for us, a prototype technology, that later goes to regular customers.
– What with your logo featuring bones & skull? And what does your motto ‘ It’s time for Rock and Rollerski!’ is suppose to mean? Are you after younger and ‘cooler’ crowd?
– When I started putting together my first prototype, I asked a friend to create a logo. I wanted to be different, because for me the other brands were too serious – so, we did skull with bones and pirate letters. That was to show the difference from the beginning. In other sports, like bikes, snowboarding, even alpine skiing, you have cool brands, but here ( in rollerski industry) a design was always ‘low risk’. And the Rock, is also to enjoy, to be wild. We want our customer to feel they are living an adventure when they have our rollerskis under their feet.
– You have an aggressive marketing strategy on social media that your competitors lack for most part – what are your ideas and thoughts behind that?
– I think social media is the key to know what the people want. Other brands make a great (sometimes) product and bring it to the customers, telling them “This is the best you need”. We do it the other way. They tell us what is the best they need, and then we develop and launch for them. Then is easy, we don’t need to sell as the “lightest”, “the best feeling”, “the best in the world” because people recognize that this is what they want to have. Plus social media help a lot to spread our brand. Some athletes ask us for 5.000€ for sponsoring, just to put a logo somewhere. With that money we can make advertisements for a year on Facebook or Instagram, and believe me, that’s much more effective.
– In most of Europe ( excluding Norway, perhaps) , for one rollerskier you meet in the park/on the road, you see five rollerskaters and, perhaps,ten bicyclists. What needs to be done to change this and to turn rollerskiing into a real mass sport?
– There are few things that can be applied to any business:
– Promotion. Are we, the brands, clubs and federations promoting rollerski correctly?
– Advertising. Again same problem, plenty of advertisement telling “we are the best” , but people still don’t know what rollerskiing is.
– Price. To start in this sport , one need to spend a minimum of 350€ – while rollerskates you could have for 35€ (or less). For that price you can not even buy the wheels for your rollerskis! Ok, bikes are more expensive, but everybody knows that they coulc ride a bike. Not everybody is sure that they can be able to use rollerskis, so they are afraid to waste their money. That’s why also more instructors will help a lot. People that can teach new skiers. Maybe this can be regulated and create an association of instructors with a common learning plan.
-Place where to buy. Is not difficult to buy a bike or skate even in a supermarket. Where can you you buy rollerskis? Is not as easy, specially is you want to start with it, because you need some advise from seller. You need to try the boots, etc… (if you are skier you already have your boots, and you know what is your size, but not if you are a beginner)
– Finally, how do you see the future of your company ( and rollerskiing in general) in 10 years from now?
In the last five years many brands started to produce rollerskis, but I think that market is not big enough for all of them, so probably smaller ones will disappear or will stay just for small production on local markets. At the same time, the use of rollerksi will grow up with new customers, most of them not xc skiers. The growth will also come from countries that are not traditionally ‘Nordic’. These long summers and winters without much snow will help that. 10 years is too much time to know what will happen, but I think in 5 years we will be fighting for the top 3-4 of the rollerski brands!
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