Thursday, February 4, 2010

Market Musings

Marketing. Today I am thinking about marketing. There is a lot of marketing going on out there in the bicycling world these days. A great deal of money and time and effort is being put into just how to get all of us to interact, on one level or another, with the bicycle. While I do not have numbers to back up my theory, it is my guess that there is a great deal more time and money put into getting us to buy bicycles than into those things that would get us to actually ride them more.

I do not mean to be cynical in this line of thinking. We need the bicycle companies of the world to be successful so that there are bicycles for all of us to use. A competitive industry means choice in what we ride and how much we pay for it. I am simply wondering aloud if there aren't better ways to do it so that the sales are improved through marketing lifestyle vs gear ratios.

On the Specialized web site, there is a section for women. All of the pictures on it are of women either in the mud, on their way to the mud, resting after being in the mud... Please, don't get me wrong, I love riding in the mud! Off road riding is one of my favorite things and I miss being able to do it greatly. What strikes me is the lack of scope the marketing shows.

Recently, Specialized has tried to branch out with their Globe line. Not only have they branched out with the machines themselves, they have broadened their view of how to market them. As many know, Globe gave many bloggers out there Globe bikes to ride on the condition that the people who received their bikes wrote about the experience and how their bikes fit into their daily lives. They chose a broad cross section of people from different age groups and regions and races.

I think this is brilliant! There is no beating you over the head with "Globe is great!", just a lot of stories about how life is lived on a bicycle. The regular Specialized web site leaves me cold. There is nothing there for me as I know nothing about bike parts, and quite frankly, I am not that interested in them. The people pictured do not represent me, how I live or even how I want to live. The Globe blogs make me want to know more about the company and the bikes they make. The people that ride them look like me and my family and my neighbors.

There are other bits to this thought floating in my head. How women and young people are ignored by the industry as a whole. How a desire to simply live with a bicycle seems to get eclipsed by those who feel that we should all aspire to be fast and muddy. How cyclists are portrayed as incompetent or daredevil (or both) despite the fact that our vehicles do not accelerate out of control or knock down power polls or leak antifreeze that kills animals that drink it.


I guess I'll just keep plugging away with my camera and take pictures of what I think makes cycling attractive to the masses.

Hey, Baby!

It is certainly what attracts me- a 39 year old mother of three with a career and a commute (not so much career / commute these days, but you get my point). My guess is that I was not what came out of the various marketing meetings and focus groups : )


  1. Hello, I work for Globe, and I really appreciate your candid comments regarding bicycle marketing. I will definitely be sharing this entry with our marketing team.

    Keep riding! (and blogging!)

  2. I, too, find the Globe Experience great. I'm proud to be a part of the Canadian group. You can read our posts and see our pictures here:

  3. Adrienne, Globe and the marketing people there are onto a willing formula because they are emulating the personal connecting style of blogs like yours - you guys achieve visitor traffic that PR men dream about! But I agree, until very recently a lot of marketing dollar has been spent on advertising bicycles to specialists as a sub-cultural thing, which is really missing the point of course as if you make cycling everyday and ordinary you can market your bicycles to EVERYONE. (As I wrote way back here at the start of my blogging escapades: )
    There's a strong business case for Copenhagenizing our streets - at least for the bicycle manufacturers! I only wish their lobby was as powerful as that of the car manufacturers.

  4. Jessica & Duncan- I am glad you stopped by!

    Mark- "I only wish their lobby was as powerful as that of the car manufacturers." I think we are, we just don't tap into it. If we all put just a little energy into emulating what we want to see on our streets and in writing letters/ going to planning meetings/ talking to our neighbors... riding our bikes with a smile and a wave, we would see massive change very quickly. There will not be change at the government level- we have to do it ourselves. At least, that's how I see it : )

  5. Yes Adrienne, you are right, the movement has to come from the ground up, but at the same time I think that if bicycle manufacturers were focussing on making cycling a mainstream activity (therefore increasing their profit margin) and not so much on 'specialist' sporting bikes, and with this swing I'd like there to be a more efficient cycle lobby group - ie the people with money and power pushing for better cycling provision and infrastructure etc - we'd have those new bike racks and cycle lanes built in no time!