By Alison Chaiken
This interview with Lance is a year old but is fascinating because it's as much about business, politics and social media as about cycling. Nonetheless there's plenty for race fans to obssess over.
As has often been noted, selling expensive fancy bikes to passionate cyclists is where the bike industry excels. Expanding the pool of customers by reaching out to non-riders is much harder to figure out.
The Sinclair A-Bike was discussed in Cyclelicious and VeloVision in 2006, when the product first went on sale. What struck me in reading about the A-Bike again today was that its U.K. distributor is Mayhem, a gadget and novelty company more akin to Brookstone or Sharper Image than a traditional bicycle retailer. A big part of marketing bicycles to non-riders may be realizing that we need to sell bikes in the places that they shop. People who don't think they want bikes don't go into bike stores!
Sure Walmart sells bikes, but Walmart is where shoppers trudge to buy diapers and toasters, not fun toys and not transportation equipment. In order to promote the image of bicycles as hip fashion accessories, as seen in Bikes and the City and sac cycle chic and Velo Vogue, we need Electras in Ann Taylor and Stridas in Old Navy and Breezers in Starbucks. In order to promote bicycles as transportation, why not convince car dealers to sell them? Maybe someone who can't quite qualify for a loan to buy a Prius would be interested in an Xtracycle instead.
By Alison Chaiken
From N.Y. Times on Sunday 12/28:
Wayne Sosin is the president of Worksman Cycles in Ozone Park, Queens, a 110-year-old shop that produces heavy-duty bicycles and tricycles used in warehouses and factories. In October, a manager at the company was worried about rising costs, but confident that sales would remain strong. But orders from automakers and their suppliers have “basically dried up to nothing.”
Support international bicycle businesses through microfinance
By Alison ChaikenKiva is a Web 2.0 microfinance community allows the affluent to support and interact with small businesses in remote places. Lenders give loans as small as $25 to enterpreneurs all over the world. One kind of business that participants can support through Kiva is bicycle shops. Consider for example the Reaksmey Sar Group of Ta Reab Doun Sar Village, Cambodia:
This village bank loan which consists of twelve people is located in Ta Reab Doun Sar village in Kandal Province. Mrs. Reaksmey Sar is the village bank president who has been selected by the members. She is a 43 year old housewife and the mother of four children, all of whom are attending the local school. Her husband, Mr. Koem Muny, repairs bicycles. In this business, he now faces a small problem because he does not have enough money to buy bike equipment for his customers. Thus, his wife, Mrs. Reaksmey Sar, decided to ask for a loan to buy more bike equipment for her husband's business.
The Reaksmey Sar Group needs $175 in increments as small as $25 each to complete their loan. Why not support cycling in Cambodia this holiday season? And if you do join Kiva, be sure to sign on to the "Move Your World" team of cycling supporters.
"Negotiate with God"
taking bicycles a bit too seriously
1. I don't think Cervelo has a custom frame program at all...except maybe for their pro riders.
2. Unless specifically paying someone to be your punching bag, no expenditure of any size justifies being a dick. And $4,000 for a road bike isn't even spending a lot. That'll get you a mid-level Cervelo frame and, like, an Ultegra gruppo. La di fucking da.
3. The folks at Cyclepath are super-nice. Very laid-back, relaxed atmosphere. Very friendly and helpful. Dropped in there once with a buddy who was shopping for a new saddle. They gave him a Selle Italia to try out...a free demo saddle that was worth around $150 retail. Didn't ask for a deposit or even a credit card #/imprint. Just his phone number. That's the type of folks they are.
Kudos to the owner for making the jerk apologize, even if it was an insincere apology.
...so, mr "cisco joe" burton...ya thought you were gonna be the cats ass/meow 'cuz you were investing more money on a bicycle than ya initially thought was possible...
...while 4g's ain't nothing to sneeze at, cisco joe, when it comes to the world of cycling, you're just getting your feet wet...
...but no matter what you spend, no amount of money buys you the right to be a douche...at least not in our little cycling world...
...you're gonna have to up your game, amigo, both attitude wise & on the machine...spend 4 grand a pop for a new ride & while we all know it ain't the 'best', we'll still expect to see some action...
...& you better get smooth n' supple, joe...we have expectations amongst our ranks...
No wonder Cisco gets jerks for new hires.
Wishing death on someone is not the same as threatening death on someone.
He's still an ass, but there's a big difference between "I hope you die" and "I'm going to kill you."
In my experience it's the folks who have sort of almost a lot to spend (i.e., wannabes) who have to prove somethign and get an attitude. The really rich ... welp, I don't even usually get to be lifeguards at their pools but they tend to know who to talk to to get somethign done instead of wanting to just make somebody else as miserable as they are insecure.
reaching non-traditional cyclists
"Maybe someone who can't quite qualify for a loan to buy a Prius would be interested in an Xtracycle instead. I've seen the occasional promotion where a bike is thrown in with a car purchase, but I like your idea. Maybe even a Stokemonkey equipped cargo bike?
Wow, a bike that folds into a walking stick.
Might come in handy on those "No Bikes Allowed" hiking trails.
At EvilMart I'm always looking for bike stuff near the automotive section instead of the sporting goods section. Maybe that would be a start?
Hmmm... maybe start the culture invasion with folding bikes to be sold at the auto parts store - so when you break down, you've got options? They're not much bigger than those "emergency kits," after all. ... or, how 'bout at those stores where they sell fair trade stuff? Fair trade transportation... an enterprising bike shop owner could put some there on consignment, perhaps?
I've been thinking about this topic a lot and it's true, there has to be a cultural shift of how we perceive bikes. For all the arguments about fixies, it's greatest gift to cycling was it's introduction of the bike to a wider audience. Cycling is seen as cool and not just the territory of The 40yo. Virgin.
This has to continue if cycling is to become more widespread. It has to be portrayed as something that speaks to a persons self-interest. The bike has to be portrayed as something that will make them sexier, cutting-edge, more desireable...taking a page out of the automotive industry marketing.
Perhaps pointing out economic savings in these tough times. The Bike as the ultimate Recession/Depression-busting vehicle.
I think the traditional way of marketing the bike as often seen in Bicycling (carbon-uber-electronic-shfting-bike-shaped-object) is on its way out. It's capped out its market. There's only so many ways you can sell carbon fiber.
If they (bike industry) wants to GROW the industry instead of just selling expensive toys to the choir, they better change their tune.
I think it's up to us people who are in the market to help make that happen. I know I've had an effect on the local market myself, I suppose just by being visible and defying stereotypes. Of course, stereotypes can have a life of their own and defy defiance... so if one doesn't fit, people will find another; anything, to resist that cognitive dissonance that might invoke change.
I love SiouxGeonz idea of keeping a bicycle in the trunk as part of an emergency kit. Imagine cycling 3 or 5 miles to refill your gas can instead of walking! In fact, a smart businessperson somewhere should develop a lightweight bike intended especially for the purpose of trunk stowage and use in a breakdown. What design and which features should such a bike have? The discussion is worth a separate blog posting.
Three cheers for Russ Roca's observation that the marketing of cycling as an activity that's good for you is wrong-headed. I'm happy that cycling is good for me, but mostly I do it because it brings me joy, pure unadulterated bliss. For a long time, the environmental movement always opined in public about how mean and nasty polluters were, and membership and contributions declined. Finally someone figured out that, in truth, sensible environmental policies were about healthy, happy children. We need to change the marketing of cycling to tell the world just how damn fun it is.
It IS damn fun, and more people need to know this. It's not JUST fun, but when I ride to work, I'm floating on a magic carpet of endorphins well into the afternoon. By the time I start coming down it's time to ride home. What a great stress relief! Keeping my head on a "Fire Fighting" day when I've driven to work is more difficult.
Would they have fun the first time? Or would it be all stressful?
Is our task not so much to market the bicycles, but to market the riding? Get 'em hooked?
I agree wholeheartedly, SiouxGenz: market the riding! "It's not about the bike," as some guy once said. Somehow we have to turn childhood memories of cycling from a negative association ("cycling is for juvenile people") to a positive one ("I adored cycling as a child and will love it again now"). The reason I started this discussion is that changing the venues where bikes are sold is a start on changing the way non-cyclists think about them.
In the book No Logo, Naomi Klein describes the shift of marketing from product to lifestyle. Instead of enumerating the different attributes of a particular product (while logical, doesn't cause as great a shift in behavior), you need to evoke some sort of primal emotional response.
In this case...FUN.
Just as a the Nike Swoosh = Sports, the same correlation must be made with Bike = FUN/Hip/Sexy/etc
The bike is the vehicle (literally and otherwise) for the lifestyle.
One great example of this, in my opinion, are the Fat Tire beer commercials that show the guy rebuilding a bike and taking his wife out for a ride...simply beautiful and makes me want to hop on the bike every time...
Sour economy hits utility bicycle manufacturer
When money dries up, everyone suffers. The bailout of the banks has had less than stellar results. And not helping out the auto industry retool and ready themselves for the next clean technology will cause a rippling effect throughout.
It's time to get inventive again.
It was also on NPR (and maybe linked here ;) in November http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=97024808
(I notice that the "passive heat" article is still the most emailed from the NY Times, too.)
And tiny little cycling political efforts are showing up, like the "1-mile solution" http://www.change.org/ideas/view/the_1-mile_solution
Support international bicycle businesses through microfinance
I really really love the idea of Kiva and microfinance and helping people in third world countries. I've been a Kiva lender for over a year and have $250 in loans on the website.
Unfortunately, Kiva's field partners charge incredibly high interest rates to the borrowers that people like you and me are trying to help. The field partner on the loan you highlighted charges an average of 30% interest on the money you give them to lend. While Kiva lists the rate from 'other' lending sources in the area as 120%, is charging someone in a third world country 30% interest on a loan really the best way to help people and to fight poverty?
Since a few months ago I have only re-lent the money I have in Kiva to loans whose field partners charge less interest than the Kiva average (22.91%) and try to support those that charge well below that. Instead of putting more money into Kiva, I have been donating (versus lending) to other organizations that help others in third world countries.
Anyways, I like your article for its focus on bike-centric organizations and I will be making a holiday donation to Bikes Not Bombs (or similar organization)
Great idea, promoting environmental transportation and the economies of developing countries (two birds with one stone).