Consumers like choices, lots of choices. Three seasons ago Burton began offering the consumers choices not only in their already huge line of boards, but in graphics as well. By changing color options on the topsheets and bases, the different combinations added variety to the line. Burton’s Vice President/Director of Marketing Dennis Jenson says the idea was a result of response from riders, the market, and Burton production people. Graphic options started on a limited basis and were expanded last year to include the best-selling models.

But Burton’s not the only company offering different graphics for the same models. Haz-Mat, Ride, Sims, and others are running similar programs.

Ride’s Public Relations Represenative Debbie Murphy says they do it to keep things fresh. “After looking at a model in a shop for six months, kids like to see something new.” Ride calls its program “the holiday program.” For the last two years, they not only changed the graphics on their four pro models, but also the shapes and sizes.

Haz-Mat offers two graphics per board on five of nine models. Owner Donald Cassel says he started offering the choices after feeling indecisive about which he liked better. He says choice is a good marketing technique because some people like a clean graphic, while others like something busier. Sims’ Marketing Director Gaylene Nagel says their company will be offering a second color base graphic on its Tina Basich model this year around the mid season.

While the response to these programs has been great for consumers, retailers and manufacturers have mixed emotions.

“The only person who benefits is the consumer, which is nice for them, but everyone else down the line gets a hemorrhoid,” says Haz-Mat’s owner.

Ride’s program has gotten a mixed reaction from shops. Murphy says sometimes a shop may get a graphic they don’t like, but regardless, profits have increased dramatically.

So, while offering consumers a choice may cause some problems and a rise in production expenses, the financial benefits outweigh the drawbacks. “It’s a fairly cost-effective change to do,” says Jenson. And as usual, consumers are the final word¿if people want it, they’ll get it.