Industry opinion: trends across the pond

Industry opinion: trends across the pond

Retail expert Phil Chang writes in from B2B network Hubba with news for what’s expected to be big in the US in 2017.

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Cycling is an addictive sport. All over the world, folks are getting on bikes and never getting off. Whether it’s for fun or exercise, or relied upon as a source of transportation, bikes are undoubtedly well-loved.

In the US, the bike market makes roughly $6 billion in sales each year. While the market numbers have been stable, the cycling industry as a whole hasn’t remained idle. For one, the number of specialty bike shops has declined rapidly. In the year 2000 there were 6,195 specialty bike shops – in 2015 that number dropped to 3,790. Add to that the innumerable changes happening in the sporting goods market and this makes the industry anything but calm!

So, what’s in store for 2017? Here are three things to watch:

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Sporting goods stores will continue to be volatile. While this may not radically change the cycling industry, it certainly will have an impact. Notable sports retailer Sports Authority went bankrupt earlier this year. Meanwhile, Bass Pro Shops, which doesn’t sell bikes, recently acquired Cabela’s, which does. As sports retailers continue to rise and acquire or fall behind, brands will have to keep quick on their toes.

The rise of the e-bike and alternative transportation. While still just a small segment of the market, e-bikes represent mass recognition that bike lanes are a great alternative to sitting in traffic in one’s car. While cities like Austin, TX and Portland, OR are continually recognised for embracing cyclists, it is surprising that a commuter-heavy city like Philadelphia managed to top Forbes’ list of bike-friendly places in America. Nevertheless, as the number of bike lanes rises and protected intersections become commonplace, e-bikes will continue to grow as an alternate means to cars and pedal bikes.

Bike sharing. In a recently conducted survey asking respondents why they wouldn’t cycle to work, 13.6 per cent of them indicated not having a bike as their primary reason. Bike sharing is currently in 50 US cities and still growing.

These three points speak to a larger market that is on the brink of emerging. Cycling is becoming a lifestyle, not simply a weekend sport or childhood method of transportation. Bike-sharing in particular will enable consumers to be able to choose when and where they want to ride, while smart placement of bike-sharing stations will continue to move the momentum of a bike-centric lifestyle.

Of course as a result, cycling accessories are on the rise. In countries where cycling is far more prevalent, like Britain, £1 billion was spent on bikes, whereas £1.35 billion was spent on parts, accessories, and clothing. More specifically:

Helmets. Statistics show that fewer than half of bike-riders wear helmets. However, as cycling becomes a lifestyle, this is bound to change. Not only will more cyclists wear helmets, but helmets will become a fashion item. Nutcase Helmets has already tapped into the fashion-forward cyclist demographic. Ranging from iconic Americana to a watermelon-patterned helmet, it’s not hard to imagine a future where cyclists own more than one helmet to better match their outfits.

Bags. Sure, any old backpack will do, but when it’s a lifestyle accessory, why would customers settle for just one? Bags like the Timbuk Pannier, designed specifically for cyclists, are set to grow, as well as courier bags in communities where bike-sharing is particularly strong.

Clothing. With the athleisure trend taking over the apparel industry, there’s no shortage of athletic clothing, shoes, and accessories on the market. But those with a keen eye should look out for bike-friendly streetwear to emerge on the market as well. In-office, our media relations director Wendy Bairos will ride to the office in style, complete with high heels, to cut out any outfit changes during the day.

All in all, 2017 looks to be a big year for cyclists. While major trends are brewing, look for local market adaptations, better suited to your brand. Like picking the right bike for the right kind of cycling, you’ll have to meet a cyclist’s needs if you want your brand to be hand-picked to be a part of their lifestyle. 

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