Burton has officially released its 2014 line of winter gear, only it’s missing one of the most popular high-tech snowboards of the past 7 years.
For some reason, Burton has decided to eliminate the Vapor, it’s second-best board, from production, putting an end to what seemed like a highly popular product. Why would it axe such a solid deck? It certainly wasn’t the price point – even at $1200, the Vapor was Burton’s second most expensive deck, behind the Mystery ($1500). Guys riding Vapors were also pretty easy to spot out on the hill, as the graphics were a delightful combination of creative playfulness and sleek color design. So why kill the line? It could boil down to a few different reasons:
- Too many boards – Last season, Burton dramatically downsized its product line when it came to snowboards. Instead of dozens of boards, most of which were all the same, it consolidated most of its technology into 10-15 decks. This made it more streamlined and easier for consumers to understand and find what they were looking for. The same could be the case for the Vapor in ’14. Burton may have felt the Vapor tech was available in too many other boards to warrant keeping it around.
- The technology evolved – Since its inception, the Vapor was always designed to be Burton’s best. It packed all of the highest technology the company could muster into the lightest, poppiest core ever invented. It was strategically placed and priced at the top of Burton’s line to attract a certain consumer. As a full camber lightweight carving/pipe board that could also bomb down the hill, the Vapor was positioned as a top-notch All-Mountain freestyle deck with the driveability of a Custom X. But, last season, along came the Mystery, designed for the same thing. Consumers could buy either a Custom X for hard charging or a Mystery for fast freestyle. It could be that Burton’s market research revealed that more people were purchasing either end of the spectrum and not the hybrid of the two, a la the Vapor.
- Consumers are smarter & the sport more segmented – Today’s snowboard consumers are arguably more knowledgeable than ever before. And, if they’re looking at boards in the Vapor’s price point, they know a thing or two about the technology and style of riding they’re looking for. Hardcore riders are gradually moving away from the “quiver killer” and more towards specialized boards for certain conditions. Hard-charging carvers know they want to ride a stiff, full camber Custom X and creative park rats with style want a light, snappy and spring-loaded Mystery. There’s just no need for a middleman anymore.
- Burton didn’t want to cannibalize itself – Part of the draw of purchasing a Vapor was exclusivity – getting all the tech nobody else had. But, the VT giant can now pack Frostbite edges, Ultrafly cores, Mystery glass and methlon bases into a handful of decks, rather than restricting it all to the Vapor. If the high-end technology is now available in more boards that are priced almost 50% lower, there’s no more allure for the Vapor and its target market disappears.