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KrisFlyZ

Is the wingsuit market, tiny?

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Glen wrote the statement: The wingsuit market is tiny. There is no room for factory hype. corporate sponsored instructor programs or room to tolerate bad quality products.

I think what Glen is trying to say is that compared to other industries that must generate a profit in order to survive....that wingsuiting / parachuting equipment manufacturing is small and minute by relative comparison.

In other industries with more broad customer base ( example video cameras and still cameras ) "hype, marketing" brings in customers or the business is so broad that there is enough customer base that a poor product or poor customer experience is lost like a grain in the sand and may not come into play in the overall scheme of things and determine whether the manufacturer fails.

While there may "appear" to be more wingsuiters; its still a form of "equipment" and is right there next to a parachute harness/container assembly.

So in a "broad context" our parachute industry is very small, and the customer base very limited, narrow, and specialized.

I think what Glen is trying to say is that there is a "high degree of deep vested personal involvement" in parachute products and what matters most in this specialized segment is a high degree of product quality and a high degree of service based on the money you put down....and the equipment you put on your back.

Its way different for our products than say other products that are marketed.

We are skydivers so we have a different standard of rules and accceptance criteria that we apply to our equipment .....that is way different than other things we buy.

I hope this makes sense.

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Just wondering based on a comment in another thread.

My opinion was that wingsuits are growing in popularity. At every DZ that I jumped there are a lot more wingsuits today than a few years ago.

What do you think?



I think it's obvious that there are more wingsuit sales today than a few years ago. Birdman's sales didn't decline and cause them to go out of business because the market is small; the market could (and has) support 3,4,5 whatever wingsuit manufacters there are/will be. Birdman went away because they had no designer and couldn't keep up with the various fast/large suits coupled with declining quality of customer service.

YOU need to go out and sell people on buying wingsuits so that we have more people to jump with. :P:D

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My comments were based on the fact that I just don't see the growth that I would have expected seven years ago. Wingsuiting is in a state of statis. Those that want to do it do, those that want to try it will but just to try it.

Perris and Eloy are prime examples. Two very big domestic DZ with not a lot of WS growth. In the case of Perris I believe it is a decline compared to the early years. Elsinore has probably the same as in the past but non of them are 100% they do other kinds of jumps, I became a 50% myself. Z-hills has big events but how many were travelers? The friends of Flock -u have nice gatherings and organizing here and there but they are largely travelers. Different event same faces. The Lodi group is slowly growing but some of that is from flockers gravitating from other areas.

On the flip side I know quite a few wingsuiters that have stopped jumping. Almost enough to cancel any projected growth.

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My comments were based on the fact that I just don't see the growth that I would have expected seven years ago



The world is bigger than the few dropzones you jump at you know:P

Id estemate the number of active (full time) wingsuit flyers in EU at at least 3x that what it was just 4 or so years ago...and looking at basejumping, its hard to find jumpers who dont own/fly one...

In Holland/Belgium/Germany it was hard to find two or three wingsuit flyers accidently jumping on the same DZ just a few years back. These days almost every single dropzone (a dozen in Holland alone) has at least 3 to 5 flyers, who practice wingsuit flying as their primary dicipline. And that group is growing quite fast.

In France, Spain, UK its also growing quite steadyy. Almost every major boogie you attend in EU here has wingsuit groups as part of the standard load organizing, with ever increasing groups attending.

The 'same faces/different event' thing is something we dont get much here.
The Load organizers are usually the only recurring thing when you visit another place.

I just came back from Italy, and we had around 30 flyers there. Half of which Id never met or flown with. And I see and meet new enthousiastic flyers at every event I attend. As mentioned before, I think the wingsuit population now is at least 3x what it was just a few years ago.
JC
FlyLikeBrick
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The world is bigger than the few dropzones you jump at you know:P



Very correct, I was only extrapolating from a few large DZ that regularly have multi-plane formations of other disciplines and can regularly host 100plus way formations without blinking an eye, not caravan, porter, cessna DZs.

I know a quite a few Base jumper that don't WS maybe 50%.

You claim 3x growth ( not doubting ) great can't wait to see video from multi-plane formations of EU. Is registration at your very own WS freestyle competition trippled?

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You claim 3x growth ( not doubting ) great can't wait to see video from multi-plane formations of EU.



This freudian fixation you have with formation size is not one shared by many other flyers when it comes to the state of the dicipline.
I know people, faces and names. Much more personal and more correct in terms of headcount.

In Italy last week, most members in 5 out of 8 teams had not been flying for more than a year. Id say thats a nice statement when it comes to growth? And most had put in tons of dedicated training for that.

We used to have 3 to 5 big wingsuit events in EU a year, with 15 to 30 flyers at each. Seeing the same faces everywhere.
Now there are events every few weeks with numbers in the 20 and up, and different faces at each event. Each DZ has a group of WS flyers these days.

Im happy you have a big dz, but its the small dzs where the growth is most visable. And many new flyers with hours of dedicated training will be taking this dicipline to the next level. Not the old folks ranting on a forum about how its all going downhill from when they lost touch/feeling with that same new generation...

Wingsuit flying is alive, growing and taking big leaps forward...
Names and faces say more than your focus on bigway formations on two dzs where you jump. Small formations and skills seems to be of bigger interest. In both the USA and EU.

Its a sign for sure...but not the one you see in it..:P
JC
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This freudian fixation you have with formation size is not one shared by many other flyers when it comes to the state of the dicipline.
I know people, faces and names. Much more personal and more correct in terms of headcount.



My fixation isn't Freudian. I wasn't at the last bigway either. I know people, faces and names that have stopped wingsuiting, stopped jumping or have died trying.
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Im happy you have a big dz, but its the small dzs where the growth is most visable.



I don't have a big DZ, I have all of them.I don't jump WS at Perris or Eloy, I do other types of jumps there.
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Not the old folks ranting on a forum about how its all going downhill from when they lost touch/feeling with that same new generation...



Wow you make it sound like a sad love song.... "feelings nothing more than feelings" Besides I said it was in a state of statis you don't listen.
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Wingsuit flying is alive, growing and taking big leaps forward...
Names and faces say more than your focus on bigway formations on two dzs where you jump. Small formations and skills seems to be of bigger interest. In both the USA and EU.



I jump at a lot of DZ of various sizes. So how largess was this years competition of yours compared to previous years?

:P
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Hope you dont mind us enjoying the expantion and growth of the dicipline while you moan about stagnation...:P



No moaning here. I do all types of jumps. They don't have to be WS jumps & they're all good. Its all about flying your body/ canopy.

But I can see I've struck a nerve pointing out that if your WS sponsor goes belly up, and since you don't have any other jump talent, you will have to pay for products like the rest of us who pay full price for wingsuits and rigs.:D

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Its hilarious to see you switch subjects just because your stagnation theory is proven wrong by simple numbers/facts.

more people than ever are flying wingsuits everywhere, and you start crying and making a lot of wrong assumptions about sponsored people who appearantly only do this for free stuff.

I know Id like to have a sponsor paying the suits I called my own over the past years. I know I always work hard and payd for mine..
JC
FlyLikeBrick
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Is the wingsuit market, tiny?



Here's what Ive observed. The wingsuit market, for its consumer base, is about the same size if not a bit bigger than the canopy market is for its consumer base. I mean it takes anywhere from 12-14 weeks to order and recieve a new wingsuit. It takes about 16-18 weeks to order and recieve a new canopy.
Muff #5048

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Here's what Ive observed. The wingsuit market, for its consumer base, is about the same size if not a bit bigger than the canopy market is for its consumer base. I mean it takes anywhere from 12-14 weeks to order and recieve a new wingsuit. It takes about 16-18 weeks to order and recieve a new canopy.



I don't think that statement is accurate. What you seem to be saying is that the wingsuit industry with regards to it's consumer base is about the same size as the canopy industry is with regards to it's consumer base.

The 'market' of either one would be the available consumers for a product or service. Given that, the wingsuit market is much smaller than the canopy market. Every jumper needs two canopies, and fewer than 1/3 (a guess) of all jumpers owns a wingsuit.

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and fewer than 1/3 (a guess) of all jumpers owns a wingsuit.



What is the demand for canopy mfg vs. wingsuit mfg? Owns and "has ordered" are 2 different things. Would you not agree that about 1/3 (ish) skydivers are looking to buy a new wingsuit? Figures look to me as 1/3 of the skydivers are becoming interrested in w/s'ing.
Muff #5048

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Would you not agree that about 1/3 (ish) skydivers are looking to buy a new wingsuit? Figures look to me as 1/3 of the skydivers are becoming interrested in w/s'ing.



That seems like a high percentage. If you figure there are 30,000-something members in the USPA, and only 20,000 of them are currently jumping, 1/3 would be close to 7000, and that's just in the US. I don't think there are 7000 potential wingsuit customers in the entire world.

Does anyone have an idea of how many suits the manufacturers can ship in a week? I know the backlog is months-long, but how many orders are completed in a week? Three? Four? More? Less?

I would be surprised if any of them are selling more than 100 or 200 suits per year. Overall it has to be less than 1000 all together worldwide.

I'm just guessing here, anyone have some insider info? Outsider info?

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Just looking at the sheer number of new flyers everywhere, wingsuit flying is far from stagnant, and the dicipline keeps growing every day.
The biggest change Im seeing is, new flyers who pick wingsuit flying as a dicipline, and do a lot of dedicated flying and training.
As opposed to some of the older flyers, who often only practice wingsuit flying as a novelty thing outside their normal FS/Tandem etc jumping.
JC
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Id bet robi sold at least 500 suits last year if not more. Wingsuit skydiving might be somewhat stagant, wingsuit BASE jumping, however, continues to explode.



That seems like a lot of suits to me.

If you want to talk about a tiny market, reduce the wingsuit market down to the wingsuit BASE market. Correct me if I'm wrong, but the last guy I remember getting a BASE number was about 3 years back, and I think his number was 1200-something, does that sound right? If it is, that means that there are under 2000 guys with BASE numbers out there. To figure that multiple 100's of them all bought wingsuits last year seems like a very 'optimistic' number.

To look at it another way, 500 suits in a year would be delivering about 10 per week. Does anyone have an idea of how many hours go into building a wingsuit? I don't mean at home, I mean in a factory with patterns and an established construction process.

Between all the cutting, the various colors, the different materials, thread changes, and inspections, it could be 40 hours worth of work all in to get one out the door. So in order to build ten suits per week would take ten full time employees building suits. Does anyone know how many employees he has?

If he only has two or three people sewing for him, then I don't even think ten suits per week is a possibility, but if he's got a bigger workforce, he might be able to produce 500/year. Either way, I maintain that 500 is a high number for one company, and that the BASE market isn't driving the numbers up into that range.

The other thing to keep in mind is that out of the already small pool of possible wingsuit BASE customers, a good portion of them live nowhere near anything they could wingsuit BASE off of.

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Interesting debate here.
Is the market tiny?

By the standards of most consumer products, yes. No matter how popular wingsuits get, we who fly them are still just a small subset of the total number of jumpers. It is still dangerous enough and challenging enough that out of all skydivers, -relatively- few of that culture are either inclined or qualified to get into it.

Even if, in time, wingsuiters became half of all skydivers the wingsuit market would still be "tiny" by general-public standards. The general public can and will buy several million of any given product... DVD players, cars, ipods, flashlights, whatever.

But even if half of all jumpers were birdpeople the market would still only be supporting 5-10,000 at best.

However... stagnant? In stasis? You've got to be kidding me.
Short story for you VB.
Here at Pepperell I've watched it grow and disperse and grow again. When I started here it was just me. Plus a couple guys who owned suits but didn't fly em much like Murphy and Godin. Nobody to fly with. The discipline was in its infancy. Between the three of us we could barely manage a simple dock, let alone all the technical flying most of us can do these days.
Those guys became my old-school brothers, been flying with em since before it was cool. They're still flying.
I trained Justin and the Flock U thing was born. Justin got into organizing promoting and selling suits in a big way. For a time, we had a very solid crowd here as a result... occasionally taking up the whole Otter, more and more often.
Justin took his show on the road and our local crowd dispersed somewhat as various flock members either tended to hit the road with him or stayed here with me depending on inclination and ability to travel freely. Some did both, and are either on the road or here with me on alternating weekends, plus our local stay-at-home crowd still frequently gather at Jumptown, CPI and sometimes Lebanon.

But guess what... the crowd regenerated after it split up. I get new birds here all the time. And they're good! They're talented and dedicated. Roman, Vicente and Sati just in the past few weeks. And this is at a dropzone with nobody in particular promoting it or putting up logos everywhere or actively trying to make a big deal out of it. I'm not much of an organizer, "front man" or promoter but it doesn't matter. Its known that if you go to Pepperell and the surrounding dropzones theres always a diverse handful of birds to fly with. And the new birds just keep on coming.

I'd hardly call that stagnant. Stagnant was my first 2-3 years when I could fly for a season and only meet one or two new birds... except then it still wasn't stagnant, it was just too small to have critical mass. It can't be stagnant when there was never a big scene to GET stagnant in the first place.

Now there is, but I'm not seeing stagnant. I'm seeing onging steady healthy growth and growing popularity.

Right now the scene itself is sort of "in-between" major trends. Last couple of years have been all about the bigways and it was good. But by now we're sort of "over it" and have moved on to focus more on the variety of other ways to fly besides simply making big groups flying static formations. We still do that, but now we've broken up into lighter smaller flocks with much more variety in the types of flying we do. I can join one group for cloud surfing, another for a basic 9-way diamond and help train the newer birds still enthusiastic about basic formation work, fly in the Vertical Challenge the next week, then grab a bunch of the old brothers for some anything-but-flat wingsuit freeflying the week after that, where we're carving spinning and diving doing high speed stuff the newer birds won't be ready for for another year or two. But theres a well-established hardcore of veteran wingsuiters waiting for them when they are.

Stagnant might describe the freeflying scene around here actually... theres always some freeflyers, but its usually the same basic crowd, not large, I don't think I've seen bigger than a 4-6 way all season. Wingsuits are a different story, we can put up anything from a 4-10+ way on any randomly selected weekend out of whoever happens to be here, and whoever that is, is usually only maybe 1/3 of the total number of wingsuiters available. If we all showed up at once, we'd need another aircraft to keep us all flying. If we assembled an all-newbie-way it'd still be bigger than the biggest hardcore-veteran-way we could have done 4 years ago.
Where does the negative perception come from VB? Seriously. From my own experience, (take with grain of salt because naturally any event I attend will be wingsuit-heavy, so theres always lots of birds wherever I go) dropzones without any wingsuits look like they've become a minority.

Instead of talking it down and pushing the negative attitude you seem to be taking, my suggestion would be grab your suit and a couple of newbs and go fly with some enthusiasm! It feels stagnant to you because there aren't many bigways at the moment? Thats just cause you've been in it for awhile so anything less feels anticlimactic. Ask the newbs... it sure doesn't feel stagnant to THEM.
-B
Live and learn... or die, and teach by example.

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Instead of talking it down and pushing the negative attitude you seem to be taking, my suggestion would be grab your suit and a couple of newbs and go fly with some enthusiasm! It feels stagnant to you because there aren't many bigways at the moment? Thats just cause you've been in it for awhile so anything less feels anticlimactic. Ask the newbs... it sure doesn't feel stagnant to THEM.
-B



Golf clap!
JC
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Instead of talking it down and pushing the negative attitude you seem to be taking, my suggestion would be grab your suit and a couple of newbs and go fly with some enthusiasm! It feels stagnant to you because there aren't many bigways at the moment?



I just did a first flight a couple of weeks ago, does that count? Bigways don't equate to growth. Bigways are simply an event. The number or lack of wingsuiters on any given dropzone equate to growth. McCordia did have double the registration in his artistic competition this year compared to last. Does that indicate his region is seeing double expansion of wingsuiting? I doubt its 3 fold despite claims. Skydiving as a whole has slowed down compared to years past. So if WS is in stasis its actually ahead of the game.

Once more don't take what I say as a "negative" attitude, I'm just reporting what I see.

Here is another indicator of the decline of wingsuiting. Its been a longer interval than usual between seeing a picture of purple mike posted anywhere.:)

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You really have a weird fixation when it comes to 'growth'.
Instead of a headcount (how many new flyers are there entering the sport), you have a fixation on a very limited/small section (bigways etc) to validate what you feel should be the area the sport grows in.

And every time someone calls BS on your negative talk, you resort to other subjects and bitching about sponsors etc etc.
Every DZ all over the world is currently showing bigger and bigger groups of wingsuit flyers, something everyone is mentioning. As you say, merely reporting what's seen out there...and its good, positive and growing..

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Here is another indicator of the decline of wingsuiting. Its been a longer interval than usual between seeing a picture of purple mike posted anywhere.



Its because he is not geeking cameras, but actually flying his ass of with noobs and experienced flyers, doing docks, flocks and lots of other cool flying you probably wouldnt count as signs that the sport is progressing, growing and evolving;):P
JC
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