The point about Salomon's marketing strength was right on, though. Heschung and
Hanson, Scott and Olin were only modestly successful with rear-entry boots (where
are they today?) But when Salomon did it, everybody thought it was really cool,
and the boot industry stampeded to imitate them. The cap ski was, from the start,
simply a way to print graphics on a flat sheet of plastic, then use that as the
ski's topskin -- it was a bit cheaper to do it that way than to silkscreen
finished skis. Remember that Elan and Volant had cap skis at about the same time,
but it was Salomon's product that seemed cool and every other factory stampeded to
build new molds and presses to imitate them. In both the rear-entry and cap-ski
cases, many factories went bankrupt trying to follow Salomon's lead, in spite of
the fact that the resulting products were *not* an improvement, in terms of
performance, over the traditional item. Salomon sparked a vicious consolidation
of the boot and ski industries, and one result is limited choice. Can you buy a
Spalding (Persenico) ski today, or a Kastle, or a Blizzard? How about a
French-built Dynamic, or a Lacroix? What about Yamaha, or Authier? Where's the
Kastinger boot, or the Trappeur, or the Dolomite? These were all good products,
done in by managers who thought they had to compete toe-to-toe (as it were) with
the Salomon marketing juggernaut. The following very fine companies changed
ownership in part because they couldn't match Salomon's marketing muscle: Volkl,
Caber (became Rossignol boots), Geze (became Rossignol bindings), Atomic, Head,
Koflach, Humanic/Dynafit, Raichle, Kneissl, Look, Olin -- and on and on. A number
of these brands will disappear over the next year or two.
I'm not blaming Salomon. Yes, the company does look like the Microsoft of snow
sports. But like Microsoft, Salomon was for the most part a very well managed
company competing with a lot of very badly managed companies. Rossignol is
equally well managed, in a more conservative manner (call it the IBM of snow
But Salomon is not now profitable. So the next logical move is to improve its
retained margin at the expense of some element further down the distribution
ladder. The Pilot system is clearly a fine product, but its sole purpose is *not*
to improve the flex pattern of the ski, any more than the rear entry boot was
designed to improve the precision of fit.
> > You've got that right. Salomon marketing is pretty scary when you think
> > about it. They popularized rear entry boots. They basically forced everybody
> > to make "cap" skis...
> But rear entry are good if you only want a boot thats quick to put on
> and wear round the mountain restaurants drinking Vin Chaud..
> As for cap skis, most are still simply cosmetic caps, so does it really
> matter if it has a cap or sidewalls? Who cares if Salomon started a
> trend everyone followed, it's (in the main) superficial...
> It's kinda obvious that the marketing strategies of Salomon have changed
> since Adidas came onto the scene...
> Strathbot, the Strathclyde University Robot Wars Society.