Last year, folding bike designer Mark Sanders applied the Blue Ocean marketing strategy in which he compares the international bike market to a big blue ocean of potential. There's a small red ocean of bike enthusiasts where the major bike oceans direct all of their efforts.
Mark makes the case that the bike industry should try to migrate out of this red ocean of fitness cycling into the blue ocean of "everybody else" who can use the bike for transport and leisure.
Mark is at the Taipei International Cycle Show now where he encourages bike industry leaders to apply the Blue Ocean strategy in their business to expand beyond their traditional "red ocean" market of fitness enthusiasts. It's an important talk, I think, and Carlton Reid posted Mark's slideshow presentation and notes online.
Carlton reports from Tapei with the industry reaction to Mark's presenation: "Manufacturers supply what distributors ask for. The demand comes from grass-roots bike shops, which tend to be run by sporty males."
Seems like this is potentially multi-decade shift to a new mind set of bike use. The components for change seem to be 1. price, 2. super mobility when not riding, 3. anti-yellow jersey appeal, 4. ease of purchase/availability. Given that so little has changed for general mass consumption of cycling in the United States, the above seem to be very long-term challenges. Than again, the iPod turned the music industry and listening on it's head in just 5 years.
I think the mindset is shifting... slowly. As Mark mentioned in the quote that Fritz referenced, people in the industry generally see that consumer demand is growing for practical utilitarian bikes, but it is a bit of a catch-22 until companies can see that those products will be supported at the retail level.
I love sport cycling and I don't want to see companies shift away from recreational/racing bikes, but I do think transportational bikes are key to the bike industry's growth going forward. Certainly none of the different facets of cycling are mutually exclusive.
Anyway, I think Mark did a great job with this presentation so I am happy to see it spread. My 5 year old is pretty excited too. He is pictured on page 13, so he thinks he is famous now :)
Hmm... time for grassier rooted bike shops? Or not so grassy? Then there was the Lime.. Market to men? women? students? which demographic? I'm getting even more "good for you!" comments than last year already...
re: Jerry I think it's fair to say that mp3's changed the music industry. Another industry, computers, changed the music industry; the change did not come from within the music industry. And there is still a big fight going on that has expanded to video. Here's the analogy. Look at the most recent big change in the bike industry - mountain bikes. 30 years ago they did not exist. And at first the bike industry only saw them as a fad. But within about 5 years of their introduction, mountain bikes were outselling road bikes. And mountain bikes were invented outside the bike industry. It's interesting how mountain bikes fit your 4 criteria (price, mobility, anti-snob appeal, and availability.) The next big thing will also come from outside the bike industry, possibly from a dramatic improvement in battery or solar technology that makes electric bikes more practical.