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Thread: Advertising

  1. #1
    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    Advertising

    Something on the back cover of the most recent edition of Australian Cyclist magazine (the only one I read, mainly because I don't have to pay for it) caught my attention. It was an ad for a bike shop in Sydney by the name of Woolly's Wheels, but it wasn't the business name that caught my attention as much as their slogan: "The commuting and touring specialists".

    That ad has been running for a while, but to be honest, it's the only one I can ever remember actually using that particular angle to advertise bikes. The majority of bikeshops these days seem keen to promote the "sport" of cycling. Generally the advertisements fall into two categories, depending on the type of bike they're trying to sell.

    If it's a road bike, the focus will be on speed and weight. Generally it will mention that it is the most spanky thing on two wheels because, supposedly, if you ride it you'll be faster than anyone else. You'll generally get photos of road racers in all their spanky gear crossing a finish line with their arms waving in the air.

    Of course, if it's a MTB, they'll target the "extreme sport" market. The suggestion being that this bike is made exclusively to stand up to any punishment you can dish out to it. You'll see people riding down the side of mountains or doing some other clever trick, never mind the fact that very few people will ever be able to pull it off.

    Of course, there are other types of bikes, but I've left them off for the moment because it's generally these two bikes that get all the ink. So where is all this going you ask?

    I honestly believe that the advertisers are doing a disservice to cycling by concentrating on such a narrow focus. People will rightly argue that they are doing their job (i.e. selling their bikes), but they seem to be ignoring the biggest potential market of all - the non-cyclists.

    Think about this: how many times have you ridden to work and had people compare you to Lance Armstrong (I know I have!). Maybe you've suggested to some non-cycling friends that they'd like to join you on a ride and their response has been something like "Oh no, I'm not fit/spanky enough (strike out whichever doesn't apply) to do that!"

    We seem to have allowed this advertising to create too many images of what a cyclist "should" aspire to be. I believe that as many non-cyclists who are thinking of taking it up are put off by this aspect as by the perception of danger (it's been covered elsewhere often enough... if not, well, I'll write a piece on that next week).

    Now, admittedly, touring and commuting aren't for everyone, and riding to work probably isn't sexy enough to catch the attention of the masses, but what about the sheer joy of simply riding? What about the freedom it provides? The opportunity to enjoy the scenery? The greater interaction you have with people around you (yes, it's true). These all seem to have been totally forgotten in the rush to be the fastest or the most extreme.

    I've seen many car advertisements focus on the "pleasure of driving" - why can't bicycle advertisements do the same?

    Can anyone shed some light on this?
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  2. #2
    山馬鹿 Spire's Avatar
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    I may have a couple of insights. Firstly, most people do not seem to see cycling as a pleasureable way to get from one place to another, no radio, no cd changer, no AC etc..... (that last one especially in Australia ). The fact that I find it fun that my legs ache puts me in the minority and most non-cyclsts probably don't enjoy that. I personally find it refreshing that a store would openly set themseleves as a store that sells commuting and touring related items; it makes them different from every other store as you mention.
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  3. #3
    cycle-powered nathank's Avatar
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    actually, as far as the advertisers are concerned, it's pretty much just bottom line:

    as far as i know most bike companies in the US and Canada don't make much profit percentagewise off of touring or commuting (a few North American companies do specialize in touring and Europe is different as cummuting is something of a sizeable market). touring is a small segment and commuting low-dollar, so bike companies concentrate on the high-end MTB and road sales b/c
    1) they are high dollar and high profit with frequent replacement/upgrade (to have the newest latest coolest stuff)
    2) they are cutting edge with research and visibility (i.e. extreme freeriding is "sexy" and trendy and riding an old ten-speed to work is "boring")

    in most areas of business, companies promote their top high-dollar models and work on the "trickle-down" idea... e.g. in auto industry, advertisers promote the high dollar sports cars and SUVs more than the economy models --- in the lower-end advertising usually concentrates more on good price and savings whereas in the high end on feautures and coolness

    but to count on advertisers to really do something good for society...

    even if 25% of the US population bought a $400 commuter and starting riding frequently the profits would not be that high -- as commuters don't buy new bikes every 1 to 2 years and continually upgrade like MTB and road "weight-weenies" shelling out a grand for the newest XTR disc set or 2003 Dura-ace or the newest shock or frame or shifter or whatever
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  4. #4
    JRA
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    A shop advertising touring and commuting is unusual. I'm not sure non-riders would even know what a touring bike is, and I'm not sure it would be attractive to them even if they knew.

    If a shop wanted to attact non-riders, I'd think they'd emphasise "comfort" bikes.

    But how many shops want to attract non-riders? Non-riders are, by definition, non-riders. It's probably easier to sell an expensive bike to a serious cyclist than it is to sell anything to a non-rider. Turning a non-rider into a rider is probably an iffy thing, at best.

    That said. Your point is a good one. The emphasis in advertising on the 'glamor bikes' tends to put people off, and sets up a kind of "barrier to entry" to the joys of cycling.
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  5. #5
    cycle-powered nathank's Avatar
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    But how many shops want to attract non-riders? Non-riders are, by definition, non-riders.
    here i disagree. i think a large percentage of current MTB customers were non-riders not long ago... but MTB is hip and cool and extreme...

    and of course high-dollar, high-profit margin for the bike companies when jr gets dad to shell out $900 for the new full suspension freerider... or the recently-graduated college student upgrades the junker to a $3000 full suspension lighweight XC racebike that also does freeride...

    the industry wants to attract new riders, but those that spend a lot = not commuters but "trendy" riders
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  6. #6
    JRA
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    Originally posted by nathank
    the industry wants to attract new riders, but those that spend a lot = not commuters but "trendy" riders
    Exactly. They want to attract new riders who are attracted by ads for high-end "hot" bikes, not new riders who are intimidated by that kind of advertising.
    "It may even be that motoring is more healthful than not motoring; death rates were certainly higher in the pre-motoring age."- John Forester
    "Laws cannot be properly understood as if written in plain English..."- Forester defending obfuscation.
    "Motorist propaganda, continued for sixty years, is what has put cyclists on sidewalks." - Forester, sociologist in his own mind
    "'There are no rules of the road on MUPs.' -John Forester" - Helmet Head quoting 'The Great One'

  7. #7
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    >>>>People will rightly argue that they are doing their job (i.e. selling their bikes), but they seem to be ignoring the biggest potential market of all - the non-cyclists.<<<<


    There was one advertiser that I can remember who marketed to this segment in the United States. Does anybody remember "AUTOBIKE" or the "LANDRIDER"? These were junk bikes that featured a gimick of autoshifting to attract the non-cyclists.

    I highly doubt you'll ever see an infomercial promoting a dutch commuter with fenders, chain guard, lights and rack any time soon.

  8. #8
    Member SBeach's Avatar
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    We should all thank the rodies and mtbr's for all of there cutting edge purchases. This keeps the bike companies in business and moving forward with their R & D. Meanwhile, us commuters and tourers can pick up last years, out of date, uncool products at clearance prices.
    I'm sorry to say my purchasing patterns have not been very benificial to the LBS in my area.
    Steve<><
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  9. #9
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    It's nice to see that kind of advertising for a change. However, there are a few shops that cater to alternative clientele. While we don't have any "touring specialist" in Montréal (that I'm aware of, anyway), we have 2 or 3 shops that have a good-size touring department. Too bad I don't like the bikes they sell, but still good shops for racks, panniers, etc. We also have a few shops taking care of utility cycling: they sell used bikes, low-cost but good-quality 8-speed hybrids, readily suggest fenders on bikes they sell, and almost no "specialty clothing"

    Two problems, however:

    1. They don't advertise (but almost none do).

    2. Righ now, the bike market is extremely competitive, so there is little money to make on bikes. Money is made on accessories and especially on clothing. When a shop sells a utility bike, it will sell a set of fenders and a rear rack, and maybe eventually panniers. But when a shop sells a road or mountain bike for sport, it also sells special pedals, shoes, cycling shorts, jerseys... That's where money is.

    Regards.
    Michel Gagnon
    Montréal (Québec, Canada)

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