Though obviously growing in popularity as a sport (as informally measured by the number of magazines, forums, websites, groups, etc. dedicated to the sport), it has been unusually difficult to find thorough market data around kite surfing. The following illustrate some of the methods by which I am attempted to gather research for market sizing purposes.
Use research studies to validate basic assumptions: one of the more thorough research reports I was able to find was a November 2006 survey conducted by University Trier of over 850 kite surfers. The first part of the report can be found here. While this report is dated, it still provides some valuable demographic information, such as the fact that 60% of kite surfers have a college degree. This can be used for customer segmentation.
Use older numbers, extrapolate based on market expectations:
- SBC Kiteboard Study (leading kite surfing magazine): In 2006, over 210,00 kite surfers, over 114,500 kites sold that year
- Study update: In 2008, “Industry leaders place the participation rate growth between 35% and 50% and sales growth at well over 10%”
Consider kite surfing as a subset of extreme sports: kite surfing is sometimes lumped in with other “extreme sports” and finding data about this broader category could be helpful since our customers are frequently involved in other activities. The following chart is from a study by University Trier in 2006 on kite surfing; the graph shows other sports that kite surfing enthusiasts participate in. Part of our value proposition is to make the sport more accessible to the causal athlete. One of the biggest hurdles for taking up kite surfing is the high start up cost. Kites can cost upwards of $1500 each and its a sport by which most need to take lessons in order to learn. By making the sport more affordable through producing a lower-cost, higher value kite, we hope to capture more of the extreme sport market.
Use a proxy like wind surfing: Kite surfing can be a compliment to other sports, it does not have to compete for the same customer. For example, wind surfing requires winds of 15 knots or more, otherwise you’re technically “wind suffering”. On the other hand, kite surfing can be done in winds as low as 10-15 knots, sometimes less. Wind surfers have an easier time than most customers in learning how to kite surf due to the similar nature of the two sports. The wind surfing market could be a great proxy for the market we hope to address. In another vein, we can look at a sport like skiing and consider the growth of that industry. It started as an expensive sport but gradually the price point of equipment decreased as popularity grew…or perhaps it was the other way around. I’ll look into this idea more!