Reclaim ‘performance’ for the everyday cyclist

By Jack Davey, Unearth Marketing

Cycling, particularly in the UK, has a not-so-guilty obsession with performance. It’s been meme-worthy for well over a decade but still prevails, and phrases like “marginal gains” have unironically entered common parlance.

The concept of technology trickling down from the upper echelons of pro riding to enhance the cycling life of the everyday punter goes unchallenged, but one rider’s definition of “performance” may not be the same as another’s. From a sales and marketing perspective, this must be recognised.

At the retailer level, there’s not so much we can do about the hype around the latest lighter, more aero, stiffer, bouncier, whatever product coming through – and for many of us, as enthusiasts, we love all that anyway. But our job as suppliers of cycling equipment is to assist the consumer in selecting the right products.

Our job as employees of a cycling business is to keep the lights on. We are the conduit between industry and public and for now, there’s some translation needed. The true definition of a high-performance product is one that does its job exceptionally well. So, Dura-Ace is high performance in the pro peloton, there’s no denying that.

But for the daily commute, locked outside, as an economical means of transport? I’ll take 8-speed Altus, please. For the job in question, it beats Di2 hands down. An Ohlins suspension fork will offer better front wheel tracking than a rigid steel option, that can’t be denied.

However, if ongoing servicing costs cannot be met then the function of that suspension fork – and the bike it’s fitted to – will start to deteriorate. Every customer that walks through your door should be walking out again with the highest performance bike you could have sold them.

The trick is that until you’ve figured out the environmental and economical conditions the bike is going to be used in, you don’t know which bike in the shop will offer that performance. Aspirational “this was pro-level a couple of years ago” patter might upsell someone into putting a few extra quid into the till that day, but if it’s not relevant to them it runs a serious risk of alienating that customer.

Ensure that they know their needs have been listened to, understood and accounted for in your recommendations. They’ll ride away knowing that they could not have made a better purchase, and won’t keep that experience to themselves.

Not only will that customer be coming back for servicing and maintenance needs (see our article on the customer lifespan a couple of months ago) but they’ll bring more customers in with them. Word-of-mouth is the most authentic endorsement your brand can receive, and it’s free.

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