This entry was posted on Friday, February 29th, 2008 at 11:13 am and is filed under Advertising, Bicycle advocacy, Other YouTube vids, QR.tv YouTube vids. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
John Burke of Trek has committed a whole bunch of his company’s cash to bicycle advocacy. In this video I released last year, Burke urged other bike companies to do the same:
Globally, bicycle advocates (UK trans: ‘cycle campaigners’) welcomed Burke’s stance.
But not everybody agrees that funding advocacy is a panacea.
Yesterday I published a trade-specific video of a presentation to UK bike shops from US retail guru Jay Townley. Jay Townley has been in the bike trade for 51 years, in all manner of guises, such as bike shop worker and president of companies such as Giant and Browning.
Jay Townley told a room full of Britain’s best bike shops that the UK closely mirrored the bike business in the US. This wasn’t a good thing as he revealed that the US bicycle business has not kept pace with the growth of the US economy over the last eight years.
The total US bicycle market in retail dollars has stalled out at $6bn and has been essentially flat for the last three years. 2008 will see a continuation of this flat market trend:
“There is no factual reason to believe this will change in the near future,” said Townley.
“There is no imminent bicycle boom on the horizon. Unless the bike industry changes strategy there will be no real growth in the size of the total retail bicycle market.”
He complained that the US bike industry doesn’t pull together very well. It might not be able to afford a ‘Got milk‘-style* promotional campaign but it doesn’t even try. Instead, millions of dollars is put into pro bike teams, a marketing expense that influences enthusiasts, said Townley, but not a mainstream audience, which is where market growth will have to come from.
He said too much money is being funnelled into advocacy. He said fifteen years of funding advocacy programmes had resulted in no market growth. He would like to see money channelled into an awareness campaign instead, to influence new people to come into cycling. Obesity is at epidemic proportions but there’s no bike business campaign to explain the benefits of cycling to a mainstream audience.
Of course, he’s not totally against bicycle advocacy but he doesn’t want the bike trade to put all its eggs in one basket. And especially not now. In the US, the administration will soon change and so will Congress. Who, in Washington, is listening?
>Lobbying on Capitol Hill (and in Westminster) might leverage Government money into bike schemes but along with the delivery of infrastructure there’s got to a perception shifting campaign, too.
And here’s a good example of why. It’s by Andy Scaife of the bicycle recycling BikeRescue Project of York and was taken from the Moulton mailing list:
“Had a fantastic ride over some of the North York Moors last week, going for it up the 1-in-3s (33%) in a style not normally adopted by such a pootler as I. Needless to say, the Bob Jackson coped with it better than the rider, who suffered a ‘Cardiac Episode’ while driving the last half-mile home… Paramedics pulled me out of the van, and I’ve just been relased from the people workshop, back into the community.
“Anyway,the interesting bit was the reaction when I mentioned the possibility of getting back on a bike some time soon - the mere mention that I am a keen cyclist engendered the reaction from the ‘professionals’ that I was about to go run a marathon, or worse. The usual “Cycling is a strenuous athletic activity” perception. Wouldnt you think that the health professionals would know better? One Idiot consultant recommended I join a gym and go on a treadmill. My reply that I own about 30 bikes, and did not intend to go near a sweaty germ-infested gym got a look that clearly implied “Well dont come to me if you burst your aorta and fall under a bus, you smelly beardy”.
“Oh yes, and a nurse, when she read that i had just been cycling before the ‘episode’ (for that seems to be the correct name now), asked if I had been wearing a helmet! I can think of lots of replies now, but all I could muster at the time was ” I was driving, so maybe I should have been”. It was totally lost on her of course.
“We still have a loooooonnnggg way to go…”
* Funny Got Milk? commercial: