Bicycle sales have seen a boom of sorts over the past few months as consumers looked for ways to exercise in a socially distant way or avoid public transportation in urban areas. And three bike brands—Trek, Specialized electric bikes (e-bikes) and Brompton—have launched campaigns to capitalize on the newfound growth and hopefully turn new consumers into lasting ones.
As of May 2020, according to market research group NPD Group, manufacturer sales of bikes to retailers in the U.S. saw a revenue increase of 103% and the number of bikes sold increase more than 49% year over year.
“There’s an opportunity for any of the major manufacturers to tap in,” said David Srere, co-CEO and chief strategy officer of consultancy Siegel+Gale, “and then, from a branding standpoint, sustain momentum and get a competitive edge.”
Most bike brands’ parts are manufactured in and shipped from China, which experienced massive disruption due to the Trump administration’s tariffs that started in 2018 and increased in 2019. And since Covid-19 hit China hardest at the beginning of 2020, bike brands have faced shipping difficulties for most of the year.
Giant, the world’s largest bicycle manufacturer with factories in Taiwan, China and the Netherlands, has seen a boom for all models in the sports and recreation categories, including road, mountain and e-bikes, which are currently sold out, while waiting for new products to arrive.
Giant, a top bike manufacturer, has seen almost all its bikes sell out in recent months.
The brand has done three times its usual sales in the past few months, said Reuben Hernandez, national retail services and marketing manager at Giant Bicycle. “We have done six months of business in three [months].”
Giant is focusing its marketing efforts on providing support for its retailers, which became more of a priority after bike shops were deemed essential businesses. The brand is offering financing programs, home delivery incentives and promotions to buy a bike online and pick it up at a shop. It’s also providing tips for consumers, such as enhancing their riding skills and preparing food for cycling.
“This is a new world order in America,” Hernandez said. “With so many people cycling, we believe a good number will remain in the activity and probably come to the cycling life.”
Looking for a new approach
Peter Yuskauskas, vp, marketing and retail at Brompton, which makes foldable bikes for easy transport and storage that are particularly useful in cramped city apartments and therefore popular in more urban settings, said the Covid-19 pandemic shifted consumers’ focus to things that matter to them, such as transportation. Now that people need to commute in a socially distant way while also looking for a way to safely exercise outside, biking is a more viable option for people who may never have considered it before.
Brompton launched its “Go the Social Distance” campaign in June to encourage more cycling during quarantine after Covid-19 was well underway in the U.S. “We’re encouraging people who can ride a bike to ride a bike, leaving space for those who can’t on public transit,” Yuskauskas said.
Brompton is encouraging people to ride for socially distanced exercise and to avoid public transportation.
The campaign includes signage at the U.K. and U.S. stores Brompton owns and operates and out-of-home advertisements across the U.K. The campaign is also running across social media, where some of its posts received over 35,000 impressions, with more engagement in the U.K. than in the U.S. Yuskauskas said Brompton mainly targeted Los Angeles and New York, which have been affected differently at various points of the pandemic.
But despite the lower engagement in the U.S. due to an increased focus on Black Lives Matter and protests, Yuskauskas said the brand’s New York flagship store, ecommerce site and other retailers across the country saw record sales that increased week over week since the pandemic began.