SPEAK-OUT -- MORE MAS
Millennials-Americans ages 14 to 29-are already forming a new sense of what it means to be "mainstream." That notion will continue to evolve, as African American and Hispanic American Millennials are the fastest growing segments.
Consider: Multicultural Hispanic and African American Millennials make up a quarter of their respective populations (24 percent of all African Americans, 27 percent of Hispanic Americans).
Combined, the African American and Hispanic American Millennial segments make up 32 percent of the total U.S. Millennial segment. That's roughly 21.5 million Americans.
Yet multicultural snow sport participation stands at only 3.4 percent. Clearly, there's room to increase that.
The multicultural Millennials' age is not, by itself, an obstacle. Newcomers don't enter our sports only as kids. The recent NSAA Journal, an issue devoted to the aim of converting newcomers into core participants, notes that half of all first-time lesson takers are adults. Age is simply not a barrier to trial.
Do these Millennials have the income to take part? The MAS Report makes it clear that a surprisingly large number do. The report identifies seven markets most likely to produce Hispanic American skiers and riders: Denver, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, and the greater metro areas of Sacramento, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. In these areas, approximately 62 percent of Hispanic American households, more than two million, have incomes of $50,000 or more. More than 18 percent have incomes over $100,000. Hispanic Americans meet the same benchmarks we have for our current customers.
Will they want to take part? Non-profit programs such as SOS have answered that one: skiing and snowboarding definitely resonate with multicultural youth.
Resorts have long accepted that ethnic minorities face cultural barriers in the mountains that have discouraged participation. That assumption looks outdated, too. MAS reports that 40 percent of Hispanics consider themselves bicultural-that is, comfortable in both English- and Spanish-speaking worlds. They float between the two as they please. And the percentage of bicultural Hispanic Millennials is certainly greater than 40 percent; most Hispanic Millennials have been born in the U.S., and 98 percent of native-borns are comfortable with English.
There are many other issues related to beginner trial and conversion, and they apply to Hispanic and African Americans, too. But it's time we abandoned our misperceptions about all the additional barriers ethnic groups face. Those barriers are much smaller than we imagine. Next step is to figure out how to invite them to our mountains-knowing that doing so will transform our sports into something more inclusive, too.