BikeBiz catches up with Hornit – a brand launched in 2012 to create pioneering accessories that made cycling safer, more accessible and fun
Can you give us a little background on the Hornit brand?
When the brand launched seven years ago, the singular objective was to make cycling safer. The db140, the world’s loudest bike horn, enabled cyclists to easily alert other vehicles and pedestrians to their presence. The Hornit puts cyclists much more in control of their safety on the road: rather than hoping to be seen by a distracted driver, the cyclist has a way to let the driver know they are there. It was an anomaly that the most vulnerable road user had to make do with a bell when every other vehicle has a horn by law for the reason that it makes all road users safer. The success of this product spurred Tom de Pelet, the brains behind the brand, into creating more unique, unconventional accessories that made cycling not only safer but more fun for people of all ages.
Hornit has since added Hornit LITE, a horn and light combined, and Hornit CLUG, the world’s smallest bike rack. There is also a children’s range, Mini Hornit, featuring helmets, lights and sound effect accessories for bikes and scooters. Hornit products have won awards, such as the prestigious Eurobike Award, and appeared on TV programmes such as Dragons’ Den, This Morning and The Apprentice. Over the past six years, Hornit has pedalled its way to become an award-winning brand sold in over 40 countries worldwide.
What is your vision for Hornit?
Innovation still remains at the heart of Hornit and Tom’s passion is shared by the whole team. We don’t want to be pigeon-holed into producing one type of product, but rather we want people to associate the brand Hornit with niche, high-quality cycling accessories that look good and perform even better. We will continue to operate within the adult and children’s markets because we enjoy making products for cyclists of all ages. Ultimately we want to produce a range of products that appeal to a wide variety of cyclists.
What is your distribution model, and why does this suit Hornit?
As of July 2019 in the UK, all of our products are now exclusively distributed by Raleigh UK. We are really excited about it! The move has enabled us to consolidate all our products with one distributor (rather than the previous split distribution model) which means we’re more valuable to Raleigh and will have more focus within its brand portfolio. Raleigh not only shares our enthusiasm and vision, but its team of reps on the ground and extensive network of IBDs means our product range will be far more widely available. In the rest of the world, we also use a distribution model and are increasingly working closely with our top partners in terms of active marketing support.
What is your relationship with IBDs, and to what extent are you aiding them?
We put a lot of effort into increasing awareness of our products so that when someone walks into their local IBD, they recognise the Hornit brand immediately. One of the main reasons we wanted to work with Raleigh is its commitment to IBDs. It’s no secret that the world of retail is tough right now and Raleigh is trying to make it easier by making its supply chain more efficient. IBDs no longer have to hold as much stock and Raleigh also provides next day and Saturday deliveries. We work together with Raleigh to make sure they have around four months of stock so the products are in stock when they’re needed. We also work closely with it to provide IBDs with the marketing and training materials they might need to better sell our products.
What does Hornit offer that your competitors perhaps do not?
Many of our products are patented or have won multiple awards for their designed and function. Take bike storage. This has traditionally focused on practicality. So do the solutions work? For sure. But are they beautiful? No! CLUG has captured the imaginations of the likes of Argon 18, Cervélo, Canyon and Muc-Off who all use it to display or store their bikes in the most beautiful way they can. Likewise, our children’s bike helmet range has practical features that other helmets don’t, like the integrated rear LED light, and the designs have been painstakingly created to make them cool and unique so kids really want to put them on!
What are your plans for 2020 and beyond?
Now that we have a great partner in Raleigh, we are going to focus on increasing consumer awareness in order to support the pull through in the IBDs. We know from the feedback that people love our products we just need more people to know about them!
We plan to showcase our products at a number of top cycling events like the 2019 UCI Road World Championships in the UK and other events in Europe and the US. Our dedicated in-house marketing team are working hard on social media and we have influencers all over the world using (and loving!) our products.
Naturally, we have new products in the pipeline with some of these being launched at Eurobike in September this year and others due for release in 2020.