There's a statistic deficit in the cycle trade, something SMS INC are trying to remedy. BikeBiz speaks to Kevin Burton, cycling business manager for SMS INC, to see how close we are to knowing how big the market is...
For those not in the loop, what is SPORTS MARKETING SURVEYS INC hoping to achieve in the bicycle market?
We are hoping to mirror what we have achieved in our other core sports like golf and tennis, by helping the industry – brands, venues, event organisers and federations – understand the market in order for them to make insight-led decisions to enable successful and long-term development. There’s a lack of data in the trade, so we simply want to work with the business to allow the sport to continue to evolve.
How’s it going so far?
Since we last spoke we’ve made good progress, working with a large cross section of cycle brands, from bike manufacturers to clothing brands, each requiring unique understanding of their sector.
SMS INC has a service called “The Shipment Programme” that many leading bike brands are now participating in, which gives them a vast amount of detailed information on the market, and their share.
We also have been very successful with our latest Participation Reports with many brands using this data to establish who is taking part in cycling, along with why, how and where. We ran this study in 21 different countries, allowing brands to develop a varied portfolio based on their understanding of the contrasting cyclists around the globe.
Where we have probably been most pleased is helping brands with specific issues and doing bespoke projects for them – these have resulted in some new strategic approaches for the brands in question, and this is very satisfying for our team here. Of course we still have other research programmes that are in the early stages of getting to market, but it’s exciting to see the interest they have already generated.
Have there been any unforeseen challenges to getting the data?
The issues are similar to those we faced when first operating in sports like golf and tennis, so the challenges are simply educational and operational rather than around the process. Justifiably, sensitivity of data has been an obstacle to overcome in terms of “The Shipment Programme”, so we ensure that a NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) is in place to protect both parties.
Also many brands and cycle companies do not have a budget for research, so this is a case of helping them recognise the power and potential that data offers to their business, and the ROI.
As we have previously said, research forms the foundation of development and policies around the world in all industries and cycling is not any different. Instead of merely speculating on a marketing plan, our research offers hard data to maximise growth.
When the reports are running, will the only way to get to see the full statistics be if you are a contributor of data?
This depends on the type of research or report. For example, The Shipment Programme is only available to brands that sign up, and partake in it; this particular example will give the brands information on total market share including value, units, ranking, average price and percentage change, along with yearly trends across all categories. Other investigations such as our Sportive Equipment Census are available to anyone who wants to understand what brands and models (across all categories from bikes to group-sets to shoes etc.) are being used by sportive riders.
Can you share any titbits of data?
We have some very insightful data from syndicated cycling research we’ve already conducted. For example, our Participation Report showed that in the UK we have just over 8.7m participants which equates to almost 17 per cent of adults in the UK having cycled at least once in the last 12 months.
Alongside this kind of research we conduct bespoke studies for individual brands, and companies that has uncovered some profound results – which obviously can’t be shared – but has offered better understanding allowing these clients to adapt, and be among the most innovative in the industry.
Are there still companies you are trying to reach but haven’t yet?
We have a strong network of contacts, but yes as cycling has been the boom sport, there are a multitude of companies (not just the brands) who we have not yet spoken to.
There are so many cycling related companies with whom we are working with, for example insurance companies who require intelligence on the cyclist’s opinion on their policies, to governments and local authorities who are looking for help with regards to cycling infrastructure. This shows the diversity of our services, and so the list of companies we could reach, and be of benefit to, is vast.