Nailing a deal with British Cycling and Team GB has been the icing on the cake for Lazer. Madison and Sportline CEO Dominic Langan takes BikeBiz through the brand’s two year rise in the UK…
It’s been a whirlwind 24 months since Madison took on Lazer. Has becoming official helmet supplier to British Cycling and Team GB been the stand out achievement in that period?
Lazer is a great brand with huge potential in the UK and globally. We took the brand on with our eyes wide open. Its performance had been lacklustre in the UK through a succession of distributors. We knew we needed to invest and we knew we needed a supply partner who was open to change, wanting to invest in their brand and a brand that was pushing helmet design and innovation. Lazer ticked all these boxes.
Madison has for many years been selling the biggest volume of cycle helmets to specialist retailers in the UK than anyone else and had helped build helmets brands, which are now household names. We know what needs to be done and we know how to create the demand and get brands placed in store. So we hit the ground running and we’ve been working the Lazer brand at full gas since the launch.
Madison has enjoyed many years of close cooperation and partnership with British Cycling and Team GB. Lazer was therefore an obvious match for British Cycling as they are always looking to get the best equipment from companies who continually push the boundaries and strive for the best performing products. It was a very personally proud moment to see Lazer become the official helmet of British Cycling and Team GB and I get a buzz every time I see these top athletes using Lazer helmets.
What has been the biggest challenge over the two years?
Madison had spent years building the Giro and Bell brands in the UK and we had been very successful at it. Lazer had pretty much no market share and some legacy issues in the market. As I said, we went in with our eyes open. We have the belief in the Lazer brand and Lazer believes in us and our ability. Our relationship with Lazer transcends just business. We work together fantastically well, with mutual respect and we are driven to take Lazer to the top.
Yes, there are lots of challenges but I think what we have achieved with Lazer in the UK in the last two years in phenomenal and this is just the start. Lazer is also growing globally and the products just keep getting better. Lazer is a personable company that cares about the sport and the people that use their products. People enjoy being part of the Lazer community. Lazer are not a global corporate obsessed with short-term sales, profits and management bonuses and they have a highly motivated and supportive network of international distributors who are all working together. We may not yet be making the same sales numbers on helmets as we used to, but I have no doubt we will but unlike the past the journey and the experience now is a pleasure.
Have there been any big surprises?
There haven’t been any negative surprises, which is always nice! From the very first time I met the owner of Lazer, Sean Van Waes, we hit it off and he has great team around him too. Sean is one of the most energetic people I have met with a clear vision for where he wants to be and because of this he takes everything on board and respects our experience of our market and has reacted quickly to everything we have requested.
What are your current Lazer best sellers?
We have certainly enjoyed some very healthy volumes with the very competitively priced Cyclone family of products – a really good looking helmet with great features. The top of the range Z1 has exceeded our market expectations and the new Blade has absolutely flown. In fact each new helmet that Lazer introduce just keep moving the brand forward and bring in new customers. The kids helmets, especially the P’Nut has enjoyed good numbers too.
Are you looking for more dealers to take on Lazer? Got any funky POS options?
Of course! Lazer has a comprehensive range of helmets, which means there is something for every specialist retailer. We are also ensuring that the Lazer core range is exclusive to specialist retailers, allowing them to sell the brand with confidence. This is backed up with substantial marketing support and point of sale offers. We have branded headers, sails, hero POS, helmet holders, talker cards, tape measures, helmet towers, dealer stickers, t-shirts, caps and more stickers! All this is backed up with product demonstrators to train staff in store or to attend local events and our Grow with Lazer and Crash Replacement initiatives.
And what about the next 24 months and beyond? Are you expecting significant uplift during the 2016 Olympics?
Lazer is growing at a rate ahead of our initial expectations and so far this year we are seeing that growth accelerate. Over the next 24 months there will be further new and exciting additions to the range and other developments, which will undoubtedly drive interest and demand for the Lazer brand. My fingers are crossed for Team GB in Rio and I have no doubt that the Olympics will have a positive impact on the brand as we are already seeing with Team GB riders out using the product now.
Should we keep our eyes peeled at Eurobike for fresh Lazer product this August?
Yes, Lazer are constantly innovating and developing new product. If last year was all about road helmets then 2016 will be the year of the MTB range. We have the new Magma and Phoenix+ helmets, plus a new Carbon Full face helmet as developed with the Madison Saracen WC DH team. There will also be some other models but I just can’t talk about them yet.
Anything else coming up for Lazer we should know about?
Certainly it is worth talking about Lazer building on the success of the Genesis LifeBEAM heart rate monitor helmet. We’ll be offering LifeBEAM in even more models, as well as our first stock deliveries of helmets with the I-Sensor technology which ensures the rider keeps their optimum riding position. There will also be an expansion of the MOi! Collection for women, plus more product updates and additional eye-catching graphic options on current models. Plenty going on to keep driving the momentum.
Have you got any messages for the trade to end on?
We are doing everything we can to develop and promote the best possible range of helmets for the specialist retailer and to give them the confidence to stock and sell Lazer and most importantly of all, to make money with the brand. That said, we’re always keen to hear feedback. If there is anything else you’d like to see us do or range, or indeed any improvements that we can make, then just let us know. Please email our Lazer senior brand manager at Oliver.Collins@Madison.co.uk or talk with their account managers.