Many of you will have read our executive editor Carlton Reid’s piece last month on the likelihood that one day the current bubble carrying the bike trade – high-end road – will no doubt burst. The question remains; then what?
I think the answer to that question, (though to some extent it depends on sorting the roads out) could have been provided by BikeBiz.com readers this month.
Within the comments on last month’s excellent guest piece by Cyclocrossrider.com’s editor Konrad Manning, one poster suggested that the CX boom is not necessarily down to those taking up the sport, pointing instead to the versatility of the bikes and perhaps the easily influenced nature of the newbie. I’ll hazard a guess you may have heard this one before: “my mate told me disc brakes are good?”
So, might the formula to carry our bubble a little further be as simple as everyday bikes for everyday people? They certainly seem to think so on mainland Europe where the ‘Dutch bike’ is the staple of shops, the cargo bike widely promoted as an alternative to driving and where sporty bikes are not necessarily put on the pedestal they often are here in the UK.
Another retailer’s comment pointed to the 50 million, perhaps more, UK residents who currently do not cycle, asking to what extent has the non-cyclist been subject to market research. Market research tends to focus on reasons for and against cycling, very rarely touching on the bikes themselves.
Might it be possible that many simply do not know of the joy of cycling, having been put off by their prior experiences of buying into the false economy offered by ‘cheap’ bicycles? Should marketing budgets instead be spent on educating the consumer about their prospective beginner purchase, instead of promoting the ubiquitous and often prohibitively expensive sport cycling image.
This brings me to the Evans summer advert, currently running on TV. I first spotted it at half time during a World Cup friendly. Branding cyclists ‘odd ones’ aside, I can’t help but feel the industry might be pushing the wrong image. If your average football fan is going to cycle, they’ll not be trading their Beckham 07 shirt for a tight fitting Wiggins ‘12 jersey. We have to reduce the promotion of sport cycling to beginners and instead normalise cycling for transport.
Can you imagine the Equestrian trade promoting its big bucks professional riding gear to someone afraid of horses?