Friday, January 26, 2007

Who should we be targeting?

Warning: This is a very mountain bike slanted post.

For any industry to grow you have to get people that aren't using your products or services to start using them.

A very obvious observation I know, however my question for this post is who we should be targeting to sell more mountain bikes to?

Two potential groups immediately come to mind...

First, the casual riders. Those people we all see on the $150 department bikes either on the paved trails or easy singletrack. Often without a helmet and wearing some sort of denim.

Second, the non-bike sports enthusiasts. Your long distance runners, kayakers, hikers/climbers, etc. The people that are already doing "adventure sports" but just haven't thrown a leg over a mountain bike yet.

My first thought was to go after the first group. They already own a bike so maybe getting them to upgrade and get more involved would be a logical next step. Then the devil's advocate in my brain kicks in and asks the questions... "Haven't these people already shown what they think a bike is worth?" and "In general, do these people look like they are into pushing themselves to more dangerous and/or harder stuff?"

That's when I thought of the second group. These people already push themselves into taking on harder sports and many of them understand spending big money on gear to get the stuff that will work long term and take a beating. To me marketing mountain bikes to these people would be a great way to get more people to jump into our sport.

I recently took a trip to the local book store and spent some time flipping through different adventure sports magazines. The general Outside magazine along with hiker, kayaker, runner, etc specific rags and none of them had much, if any, advertising for mountain bikes. So it seems that most of the bike companies are spending their cash in areas that current mountain bikers already exist. In other words, everyone is fighting for a share of the same marketplace.

Am I missing something? Shouldn't some money be spent on getting more people into the sport... especially those people already with an inclination towards adventure sports? What's your thoughts?

Tim Grahl
Quasi-Koolaid Dispenser

Posted by Tim Grahl at 6:53 AM


  1. Anonymous Anonymous posted at 3:06 PM  
    Hi. I’m an anonymous lurker – prowling bike sites to spew forth my worthless advice. Well, sorta – not really. I dig this blog and read it often, thought I’d toss in my 2 cents.

    Targeting the department store crowd sounds like a good idea. Problem is, I’d bet none of them read any bike specific magazines. Besides hanging around Wal-Mart or Target to intercept customers gawking at Magnas and Huffys – how to get the word out to them? Not easy and I’d bet a fair percentage would consider the price of a bike shop quality bike insane. “I could get a car for that!” You know the story.

    The general outdoor crowd you mention would be much easier. They’re already sold on being active and outside – and would bet many already have semi-outdated mountain bikes in the garage. I’d call these folks “mountain bike dabblers” – ride occasionally when not kayaking, rock climbing, camping, base jumping – or whatever they’re main activity is.

    Reverse picture of me and probably most people reading this blog. I ride 99% percent of the time, but have rented a kayak before and thought it was cool. Maybe with enough shiny ads in my face, would contemplate buying one. I also occasionally ski, camp and hike. Stores like REI already have this kind of scene nailed. Can wander from tents to kayaks to bikes in a few minutes. Would also guess the average REI bike customer is exactly the type of person you’re looking to target. They’re not the typical hard core cyclist, but do ride and spend dough on it.

    I’m the totally magazine junkie and flip through Outside magazine occasionally. The do include bike related articles at times, especially around Tour De France time. They always seem to score a great interview with Lance, Floyd, etc – and gear the articles towards the exact people you’re looking to market to.
  2. Blogger Tim Jackson posted at 5:17 PM  
    Tim and Lurker-
    Great conversation going here and both of you are right.

    Lurker- Going after the folks who are shopping in the department stores is never easy because they aren't living where we live, meaning the cycling world. They visit, but infrequently. Advertising to them means going after ads in major media like TV, non-cycling magazines, newspapers, etc. They are after pricing, almost exclusively, so selling them on rich history or tradition doesn't mean anything. Gotta grab'em by the purse strings.

    Tim- Yessir, going after the enthusiasts who participate in multiple sports is one of our best bets, if we're talking about getting new participants (as opposed to the previous conversations we've had about gaining new users/ commuters, etc). Advertising in the magazines they read, like Outside or Men's Health, what we commonly call non-endemic advertising, is super expensive though. These mag's have far greater distribution and readership, as in millions versus thousands, so the ad rates for one ad would eat the entire yearly budget for many bike industry companies- including my own. It is only the very big companies, the Treks and Specializeds of the world who you ever see there. It's all about the Benjamins.

    My 25 cents worth on this? The cycling industry itself needs to buy some ads in magazines and on TV. Pooling resources to have a greater reach and to find more people. Selling the idea of cycling, versus a specific brand. If we reach out together and pool resources, we can help the entire industry grow. I'm probably smoking too much crack (at least, that's what this may sound like to many), but a little group effort might be a good thing.

    Ok, back to my nap and shaking off the jet lag before I fly back to the US.
  3. Anonymous Anonymous posted at 6:27 AM  
    Yeah I understand about advertising in the huge markets... but I'm thinking more in general of approaching parallel markets where people are already leaning towards our type of sports.

    As far as the group effort, this may be a good idea for the industry. Think there enough companies that would jump on a community effort like this?
  4. Blogger Jeff Kerkove posted at 3:10 PM  
    Having done some time in retail...and seen some of the inside of the industry..I must say that the industry has its worked cut out for them.

    People who currently cycle have cycled since the day the training wheels came off. Growing others to do so is a tough task. Consumers see bikes as toys. It was something you did as a kid. Nothing more.

    I see it everyday...people walking into the shop and making smart ass comments regarding the price of "that" bike in relationship to the price of their car.

    Bikes are not an everyday item to most people. My personal thought is to stick in front of their face as mush as possible. More coverage in magazines (bike specific, health specific, and outdoor specific), get some ads on TV. What do you think would happen if a brand ran a 30 second spot on MTV, ESPN, or better yet, the Super Bowl!

    Man, running an ad during the Super Bowl would have every Tom, Dick, and Harry talking for the next month or so. Not to mention the talk in the cycling world would be off the charts!

    Anywho, people just need to get the idea that bikes are toys out of their heads. We need to make cycling "cool" to do.

    My 2 cents....and a winded 2 cents at that.
  5. Anonymous Anonymous posted at 7:09 AM  
    As most people know, I'm a fan of new media (blogs, podcasts, etc) so the idea of dropping however-many-million for a Super Bowl ad makes me sick, but I do realize some of the traditional advertising venues still have their place (for now) which is why I mentioned magazines.

    I do agree getting bikes (they way we see bikes) in front of more people more often is a great key to success however I feel like there has got to be simpler way to bridge that gap then spending millions on advertising, which is something the bike industry doesn't have.

    I obviously don't have all the answers for this, but I still feel like there is a huge untapped market in the people that are already into "adventure sports" but aren't on bikes yet. How do we tap the untapped market? I'm open for suggestions.
  6. Anonymous Anonymous posted at 9:54 AM  
    Hi. It's me - Lurker Dude again.

    I'll try and remove some of the lurker status. Me: 45 years young, been a bike nut forever, worked in a shop many years ago, still know a few people in the biz, read way too many magazines, have a mountain bike background, last few years have turned into a bit of a roadie/commuter. I dig it all.

    I agree with Masi Guy, need to advertise riding itself - not bikes. Would take the Trek/Specialized/Giant combined giant level of bucks to do this.

    Mainstream ads pushing riding itself - how cool would that be?

    I think we're in an era to do this - people seem to waking up to cost of fuel, global warming, interest in hybrid cars, etc.

    "Normal" folk are interested in commuting. It may be a small percentage, but its there. I posted a longer and bit rambling comment to another post on this blog - about the corporate commuting challenge here in Seattle. Thousands of people sign up for this every year.

    I really enjoy this blog and the Masi Guy blog as well.


    Dan O
  7. Anonymous Anonymous posted at 10:48 AM  
    I've only seen one ad campaign that's stuck with me and made me want to get out and ride a bike. It’s a beer commercial, but you probably didn't see it on tv, even though New Belgium is one of the largest "microbreweries" around. They are all here: Now imagine if a bike company provided all the bikes in that campaign and their logo at the end of the commercial next to the New Belgium logo. More money to place those ads on tv, more exposure, and perhaps more bikes sold. How many co-advertising opportunities are available out there?

    I'm really surprised that the bike industry hasn't gone after the green crowd (maybe it has and I’ve missed it?). Sure, your Prius gets great mileage around town, but your bike gets even better mileage. And it keeps you fit. And, if you're really lucky, it will make you smile. Every hybrid owner should have a 3-speed townie with fenders and baskets at their service for those quick trips where they can leave the car in the garage.
  8. Anonymous Anonymous posted at 4:11 PM  
    This is a tough nut to crack.

    I have observed lately that mountain bikes have been popping up more in main stream television - commercials specifically.

    Citibank has that spot with the 3 guys riding (one guy is sans mt. bike)... some sort of rewards program. That spot has been running on TV a lot lately.

    There was another spot with a kid who eats shit on a rocky shale like downhill course but almost on purpose just to shake up his chocolate milk or something that he has in his pack.

    and I seem to remember a spot with a kid who jumps a gap and crashes his bike on the hood of a car. i dont remember what it was for.

    anyways... lets make a sweet as mountain bike recruiting commercial. I'll get my production buddies here in LA to shoot it!
  9. Anonymous Anonymous posted at 2:09 PM  
    The big-picture ads we're throwing around here need to be PSAs. The government spends our tax dollars producing them (with co-sponsorship from the industry maybe) and old-fashioned Network TV has to show them to maintain their Public Service charter. A lot of the time top-flight production companies will turn out a fantastic ad for free to get a new director something for his reel. Think of the spectacular crashes in anti-drunk driving spots.
  10. Anonymous Anonymous posted at 6:07 AM  
    Regarding an industry-wide push to get more people on more bikes more often - isn't this what Bikes Belong is all about?

    The work that Bikes Belong is very noble, but the general public isn't seeing much of it at this point. They're working with legislators to get more bike infrastructure - which will then help grow the market for everyone.

    In regards to non-endemic advertising, note that I've seen GT and Schwinn ads in various "outdoor enthusiast" publications over the past few years.
  11. Anonymous Anonymous posted at 11:11 PM  
    Great post gents,

    food for thought on a program that i am developing.

    Bike Teacher to host Free bike classes.

    Bike Teacher founder Byron ‘TGI’ Friday is hosting a free, once per month off-road mountain bikes class for first time and beginner riders. This class is for males, females, old and young! We will demonstrate and teach riding techniques and answer questions covering all aspects of the sport of mountain biking. The classes will be taught by expert level mountain bike riders.

    While there is no charge for the program, any donation is always welcome

    The philosophy behind free bike classes came about from what I perceived to be a missing link in the Los Angeles area bicycle culture- I believe that more people would get back on their bike and riding again if they had a practical and user friendly support group. Most cycling events, bike clubs, bike skill’s clinics usually have some sort of registration up fee required in order to participate. I feel strongly that by hosting free events this will attract a new group of people who may not other wise get regularly evolved in cycling activities. If we give people a good reason to get back on the bike, they may have fun and start a riding on a more regular basis?

    These grass roots cycling activity is being provided by the riders for the riders. This being our first year, we are hoping to develop a social network of contributors, volunteers, supporters and sponsors to help grow this community sporting activity. We are seeking out (inviting) local expert riders to help host future Bike Teacher classes. It would be great if we could get the local area bike shops and bike industry members to join in and help grow this new program.

    Please join me and together we will get more people back riding the bike, having fun and living a more active and healthier life style.

    I have a dream,

    Byron ‘Byonious’ Friday
  12. Anonymous Anonymous posted at 5:18 AM  
    I agree with Tim ... as a non-bike rider I can still look at a hot mountain bike and feel my heart thump. But the thing is, I will always remember the EXPERIENCE of riding a bike ... the rush of the air past your body, ducking under branches, making a jump, hitting the ground -- laughing with my mates at the end of it all.

    I dont know anyone who didnt ride a bike as a kid. Capturing some of that joy has got to be worth a few thousand bike sales.

    And hey, don't mock my Huffy!

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