Personally, I've always liked to be a little different, playing up the psuedo eccentric angle, if you will.
I was a long time Rossi skier until a few years ago. When I began the arduous task of demoing, I started with the "big" companies, Rossi, Fischer, Volkl. Then I stumbled upon Line. Then Armada. At this time the bulk of the easily accessible "small" ski companies came in the form of park skis. The more I demoed, the more I learned. When I learned that Line and some other skis were actually made in China, I balked and started the demo process all over (even though I already had bought a 2 pairs of Volks and a pair of Armadas).
I actually stumbled upon Exoticskis.com by accident and then began investigating which of the smaller companies they had listed actually had skis available in my area. I started out with quite a long list of small, "exotic" skis to demo, but due to logistics, the list became quite small. I actually ended up purging all of my Volkls and got 2 pairs of AK (No Ka Oi and King Salmon), a pair of Blizzards (Titan 9) and over the summer, on a whim, bought a pair of Lib Tech NAS (they are skis made by Lib Tech Snowboards up in Washington State).
The major skis I've ridden--K2, Line, Volkl, Fischer, Head, Rossi--all had at least 1 or 2 models that I dug. But at the end of the day I decided that I didn't want to have the same skis that everybody else was riding. And you know what? For the most part all of the smaller, exotic skis I've purchased were cheaper than the mass produced, big company skis.
I'm nowhere near an expert in economics, but please tell me why I can buy a pair of small company, limited production skis for $400 when a pair of major company, mass produced skis cost $1000?
For almost a 1/3 of the price I get to ride a well crafted set of planks that very few people on any given mountain will be on.
For example, since I bought my No Ka Ois 2 seasons ago I have only encountered 3 other people on those skis: 1 @ Alpine Meadows, 1 @ Mammoth, and 1 @ Grand Targhee.
Since I bought my King Salmons I have not met anyone on any of the mountains I've ridden who rides a pair.
I hardly ever see anybody here on the West Coast riding Blizzards.
And after 2 days on my Lib Techs (at Keystone and Grand Targhee) I haven't seen anybody else on those and have gotten a lotta strange looks.
Since I'm forced to conform to society's whims on a daily basis by having a job, paying rent, car insurance, shaving, showering, and doing all the other things that have come to be expected of an upstanding member of society I figure the least I can do to buck conformity is to ride some unique planks.
That and the simple fact that many of the small companies are really, really, really good about customer service. One of the major reasons I started demoing small company skis is that in all cases--Prior, PMGear, Lib Tech, Armada, Blizzard, AK, Fatypus, Moment, Icelantic, heck even Hendryx Skis in Sweden!--these companies are on top of their customer base. They reply to emails many times within hours, go out of their way to set up demoes, are more than willing to take the time to talk to you about skis, etc. Last time I emailed a big ski company (Line) I had to email them a dozen times and they still never got back to me. Every one of the companies I listed above replied to my email queries lickety-split and many even carried on extensive email conversations over a period of weeks.
I have yet to have one of the small companies blow me off, even if I don't end up buying their skis. For example, while I didn't particularly care for the Icelantic Skis their demo day last April in Loveland was so cool that I totally recommend them to people to at least try. I mean at their demo day I got to try their two powder planks, speak with the founder, and they even bought me a beer after I rode their skis. When was the last time the Rossi or Volkl demo day did that (let you talk to the person who designed the ski and then bought you a frosty cold brew?) Ditto for PMGear. I'm not terribly fond of the Bro (doesn't suit my skiing style) but I've ridden with Pat, one of the founders/owners, and I've met Tyrone (another founder) and both are nice guys. I've also been privy to how they take care of their customers and the fact that they have gone out of their way to hook people up with skis, set up personalized demos, heck they have even been known to allow folks to come down to the shop and build their own skis! As with Icelantic, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend those skis to somebody based soley on how I have seen them handle business and by how cool I've found a couple of the folks who are behind the brand to be.
I'm pretty much sold on small company skis now and wouldn't hesitate to support any of them as long as i can try their product before buying (again many of these small companies are really good about getting their skis out there and letting folks ride them, knowing that word of mouth is a strong component of builing a successful ski company).
Finally, who wouldn't want to ride some skis that are hand-crafted in Reno or Truckee or Washington State or Switzerland or Whistler or Colorado? To me it's kind of cool to post on a message board and then learn that a frequent poster lives with the guy who designed my Lib Techs. Makes the degrees of separation a lot smaller to say "I know a guy who knows a guy who built my skis" rather than saying "Yeah, my skis were built in some massive factory over seas somewhere."
But then again, that's just me. And I tend to be a little weird (or so my longtime friends say).