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Klim aiming to improve the ride

By By Dave McMahon

New waterproof snowmobile gloves offer improved grip

Dealers who plan to attend or exhibit at any number of snowmobile shows this fall shouldn’t be surprised to see their prospective consumers hanging around Klim gear.

That’s because snowmobilers will be doing just that, as part of Klim’s “Can You Hang With Us?” booth being displayed to show off its newest glove technology. Klim’s preseason sales orders increased double digits overall compared to the same period in 2014, with products such as gloves and layering apparel driving that early success. Klim’s women’s lineup also saw some impressive growth in the preseason, compared to the year-ago period. The outerwear lifecycle, an average of three years, is such that Klim’s most important introductions for the 2015-16 are products like gloves, goggles and layering apparel.

Klim has seen significant increases in its preseason sales orders thanks to new glove technology and enhanced layering products.

Klim has seen significant increases in its preseason sales orders thanks to new glove technology and enhanced layering products.

“The preseason sales total is a really good read for us, given the two pretty bad years of mountain snow we’ve had in some parts of North America,” Brett Nicholas, VP of sales and marketing at Klim, told Powersports Business.

Even so, Nicholas and Klim director of marketing John Summers agree that “there is an energy right now, and people are super excited to see the snow fall. There’s still an optimism. Whether that equates to dollars spent at the dealership, we’ll see. But what we typically see in the low snow years is people don’t buy brand new hardware, but they buy gloves and clothing. They’re a little more strategic with their money.”

Bibs, pants and jackets provide Klim with an impressive lineup annually, but Nicholas says dealers can capitalize on offering full layering solutions, rather than simply the outerwear.

“It’s easy for the consumer to think of layering apparel used for stick and ball sports and think that it will work for snowmobiling, but it doesn’t. It’s not engineered for snowmobilers,” Nicholas said. “If you take a Level 1 base layer of a stick and ball-type layering product, the thread count alone will tell you that it’s not snowmobile friendly. Those products are designed for speeds that are human-propelled, not going 60 miles per hour on a snowmobile. We engineer a lot more weight and density into our base layers. So we try to get our dealers to educate the customer on that.”

Summers says dealerships that let their customers walk out the door and head down the street to the local sporting goods store are missing an extra sales opportunity.

“It’s not just about the dealer missing the chance to make more money; it’s missing out on providing the customer with an enhanced riding experience,” he said.

More and more dealers are catching on, as layering sales at Klim grew 63 percent in the preseason. Gloves, meanwhile, have had a 90 percent year-over-year preseason sales growth surge this year, thanks to some innovations.

“We’ve been working with Gore on our new waterproof gloves,” Nicholas said. “A new solution that bonds everything together from the membrane to the outer shell makes them perform like off-road moto gloves. No longer will riders have the experience of twisting the grip that feels like you’re using three layers of sandwich bags.”

In fact, the point-of-purchase display for shows this fall will allow Klim customers to try on the gloves, and see how long they can hang from a bar above without slipping. Klim-supported riding professionals will post hang times for consumers to beat. The A-frame contraption will allow eight consumers to hang on the bar at once.

Summers encourages dealership staffers to allow customers to “touch and feel” the new products, while sharing the benefits. “The technology is in 80 percent of our gloves this year, and it will be in the other 20 percent for next year. The glove technology is leaps and bounds better than it was.”

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