"For the first time in a long time, there is 100 percent clarity of where we’re going," Dave McArthur told BikeBiz at Wednesday’s product presentation to the sales force at Eastwood Hall, close to Nottingam.
This is due in part to the brand emphasis overhaul undertaken by Raleigh’s new marketing manager, Alison Ostick. She has been in the job a little over three months yet has not been afraid to make some long overdue changes.
She wasn’t given a brief to turn Raleigh’s marketing on its head but that’s what she has done.
With no history at Raleigh she carried no pre-conceptions of what Raleigh stood for or where it had come from. She cut through company politics.
"Sometimes it takes a novice like me to do that. I asked questions from a novice point of view. I cycle at the weekends but why should I, as a consumer, buy Raleigh? The brand message was very complex. It needed to be clarified for the likes of me. 90 percent of the market is like me."
Ostick’s brand re-focussing involves a clear split between Raleigh and Diamondback. Raleigh stays as the bread-and-butter brand, loved by non-enthusiasts for it’s perceived Britishness and build-quality, whereas Diamondback now becomes Raleigh’s enthusiast brand.
There will be no more Raleigh ads in the specialist cycle press. That’s where Diamondback will go. From now on Raleigh will be advertised in mainstream media only.
And the brands will be kept totally seperate:
"We don’t want consumers to see us as the same company," says Ostick.
At the Raleigh range presentation she impressed on the sales force that the change in marketing emphasis was absolutely necessary.
"Raleigh has been everything to everybody for too long," Ostick told BikeBiz.
"The brand has been stretched a long way for a long time. Times have moved on and so have consumers. With more competition than ever before and cycling becoming ever more extreme at the edges, the Raleigh name can’t stretch that far.
"I think people at Raleigh have known this deep down and when you expose them to the idea of making Raleigh a non-enthusiast brand only you often find that the idea has been in their minds all along.
"Kids who will have been bought Raleigh’s by their parents want to move on to other brands when they get to the age of 12 or 13. Kids are becoming brand-conscious at earlier and earlier ages. We don’t want to lose their business so exposing them to Diamondback and not Raleigh is the answer.
"It’s very hard to recognise that times are moving on but you’ve got to recogise the inevitable."
Raleigh will be pitched at parents looking to buy bikes for their sub-12 year olds and older consumers "coming back" to Raleigh.
"People often return to Raleigh when they get kids of their own," says Ostick.
"It’s just that 10 or 15 year gap that Raleigh doesn’t fit into for enthusiast cyclists. No matter how good a bike we build, many brand-conscious enthusiasts wouldn’t buy it.
"We need to concentrate our efforts more clearly. A lot of fingers needed to be prised off here because Raleigh has always traditionally marketed itself to everybody."
The change of brand emphasis will only impact on the enthusiast market, says Ostick:
"Raleigh will continue to be our bread and butter."
Ostick came to Raleigh after the marketing manager’s job was advertised in ‘Marketing Week’. She had become tired of the constant international travel her previous job with Stanley Tools had involved.
"I love brands," she said (unaware that was one of the things that new MD Philip Darnton said when he joined the company). Ostrick has also worked for Ronseal and Hammerite.
"Big brands are always going the extra mile for," she says.
Right: Alison Ostick at the Raleigh range presentation to the sales force
Below top: Dave Macarthur
Base: The product managers: Simon Schofield, product manager, road, city and trekking, Raleigh & Diamondback;; David Redois, product manager, MTB and performance bikes, Diamondback; Bertrand Brios, product manager, junior, BMX and playbikes, Raleigh & Diamondback; Franck Van Huizen, product manager, Raleigh MTB.