Whether you're a snowboard brand, retailer, or someone trying to get a handle on the snowboarding market for your own nefarious profit-driven reasons, understanding the “'core” snowboarder is job one.

Fortunately, for the last nine years the pointy heads here at TransWorld Media have conducted an exhaustive reader survey that includes a six-page questionnaire inserted into the third-to-last issue of TransWorld SNOWboarding. The questions include everything from what readers ride, to what music they like to listen to, and what factors contribute to the buying-decision process. All in all it's an interesting peek into the mind of our target consumers.

According to this year's survey, 34 percent of the survey respondents snowboard one to four days per month during the season, while 66 percent head to the hill more than five days a month. So, these are dedicated snowboarders. Over the last nine years, this ratio has remained relatively steady.

On average, the respondents have been snowboarding for 3.4 years–a figure that's slowly crept up since 1991 when 2.43 years was the norm.

Other activities besides snowboarding the respondents participate in include skateboarding (the number-one response for eight of the last nine years), wakeboarding (which climbed from the number-ten spot last year to number two), hiking/backpacking/camping (holding steady for the last seven years at number three), mountain biking, in-line skating, and golf (which came from nowhere three years ago).

Sixty-one percent of respondents also skateboard, and 42 percent of these respondents skate more than once a week. SNOWboarding readers pay frequent visits to snowboard shops: ten percent visit weekly, twenty percent bi-weekly, and 42 percent on a monthly basis.

Freestyle boards are still slightly preferred over freeriding boards–although this gap has narrowed slightly since 1996.

Sixty-six percent of the respondents buy a board every other season, 27 percent buy a board once a season, and seven percent pick up a new board twice or more per season. In comparison, 36 percent of respondents said they bought a board once per season in 1994. This percentage dipped to 24 percent in 1998.

Sixty-five percent of respondents said their last snowboard was purchased in a snowboard shop, down from the 70-percent high mark in 1997, but up from 62 percent last year. The second-most common spot to buy a snowboard was listed as sporting-good stores, where twelve percent of respondents bought their last board. Eleven percent of the respondents said they bought their last board through mail order; two percent used the Internet (up from one percent in 1998).

Performance remains the top consideration when buying a snowboard (listed as “most importance” by 36 percent of respondents), followed by quality/durability (26 percent), price (thirteen percent), style/graphics (eleven percent), and brand name (six percent).

The story is much the same in the boot market. Soft boots were preferred by 94 percent of respondents. Comfort/fit was listed “most important” by 64 percent of respondents, followed by quality/durability (sixteen percent), style/looks (nine percent, up from two percent in 1998) price (five percent), and brand name (three percent).

Strap bindings were preferred by 70 percent of survey respondents, with step-ins garnering twenty percent, and plate bindings ten percent. The popularity of step-in has been steadily increasing. In '97 only nine percent of those surveyed preferred step-ins. This climbed to thirteen percent in 1998.

Finally, if you're wondering which CDs to pick up for your store, these are the top-ten bands the respondents listed as their favs: Korn, Beastie Boys, Metallica, Blink 182, Sublime, NOFX, Offspring, Pennywise, Green Day, and Limp Bizkit. Happy listening.