PHOTO BY KEVIN HESSLER OF
I wanted to blog after Nationals. I really did. It’s all still smooshed into my brain, but I don’t have adequate time to construct my words about the bike race that smashed the podium.
So, you get to read my grad papers. Ha. You’re a sucker if you keep reading.
This is where my energy goes right now. Odd.
CASE STUDY #1
THE SPORT OF CYCLING
PRT 507 STRATEGIC MARKETING IN PRTS
Since 2005, cycling has decreased in popularity among recreationalists, but its attractiveness as a spectator sport has grown (Edmondson, 2011). The Tour de France and the new appeal of road racing, especially within the last decade, has drawn in spectators unfamiliar with cycling. According to the National Bicycle Dealers Association, 18 million bicycles were sold in the US in 2014; a drop from 18.3 million a decade earlier. The sport has remained relatively stable since 2003, with a net worth of $5.3 billion dollars, increasing to $6.1 billion in 2014 (Industry Overview, 2015). It is unclear if this is a result of inflation and/or quality of product. In the same year, The Sports Business Research Network noted 44.6% of bicycling participants made $75,000 or more (SBRnet, n.d.).
User Groups and Market Segmentation
Why do people ride bikes? The pulse of the industry, Bicycle Retailer, found that 73% of users participated in cycling for recreational enjoyment. Fitness was a close second at 53%, with commuting, racing, and sport following in that order (McClellan, 2014). Bicycling participation has slowly decreased in nearly all age groups since 1999, with slight increases noted in those age 44 and above (SBRnet, n.d.). Again, this could be a result of a shift in the economy, cost of production, and competing forms of recreation.
Southern States statistically have the lowest cycling participation rates, and men represent 51% of cyclists in the US (Gaille, 2013). While there have been minor fluctuations in youth participation rates over the last decade, trends have shown a decrease of nearly 4 million children between the ages of 6 and 17 since 1999 (Statistics Library, 2014). The Community Cycling Center found the cost of purchasing a bicycle was the number one reason people chose not to ride in the city of Portland (McClellan, 2014), however, bicycling increased in the city by 8% between 2009 and 2010.
Aside from the physical and mental benefits of cycling, bicycles have proven to have many other viable qualities. Commuting to work cuts down on household emissions by at least 6%, and it takes fewer natural resources to build a bike. The production of vehicles is responsible for 1.2 billion cubic yards of pollution every year (McClellan, 2014), adding to the global carbon footprint. If every American living within five miles of work commuted by bike just one day a week, it would resemble the removal of a million cars off the road (Bicycle Buying Guide, 2015).
There are many barriers prohibiting the use of bicycles for both recreation and transportation. Due to socioeconomic disparities, a percentage of Americans cannot afford to purchase a bike. The availability of proper infrastructure can also prevent participation rates, as safety is a major issue with both adults and children. While Title IX has increased the likelihood of female inclusion in sports, gender discrepancies still exist. The Women’s Sports Foundation reports 1.3 million fewer athletic participation opportunities for females when compared to males (Title IX, 2015).
Based on participation statistics, it is obvious the more affluent, adult male user groups should receive significant marketing focus. Those with disposable income are most likely to spend more on bicycles and equipment, which has a major financial impact on the sustainability of cycling. With this being said, increased focus should be placed on the declining rates of females and youth participation. The baby boomer generation represents a very large portion of the world’s population, therefore, promoting the use of bicycles within younger user groups will invest in the longevity of the sport.
As priorities shift from older, financially stable adults, to women and children, we must also remember the socioeconomically disadvantaged. Programs like Bikes-Not-Bombs, Trips for Kids, and Safe Routes to School, provide opportunities for youth who may not have opportunities for cycling. Since its inception in 1988, Trips for Kids has introduced more than 140,500 at-risk youth to the bicycle. A sport cannot “ride on the coattails” of affluent users forever. In order to market to those user groups with lowest participation numbers, we must find ways to make the sport attainable and affordable for all.
B. E. (2011). THE U.S. BICYCLE MARKET A Trend Overview. Retrieved January 20, 2016, from http://www.gluskintownleygroup.com/downloads/The US Bicycle Market – A Trend Overview Report.pdf
B. G. (2013, October 22). 49 Bicycle Industry Statistics and Trends – BrandonGaille.com. Retrieved January 22, 2016, from http://brandongaille.com/49-bicycle-industry-statistics-and-trends/
Bicycle Buying Guide. (2015). Retrieved January 20, 2016, from http://environment.nationalgeographic.com/environment/green-guide/buying- guides/bikes/environmental-impact/
D. M. (2014, August 1). Big Dollars, Big Influence? Retrieved January 22, 2016, from http://www.bicycleretailer.com/sites/default/files/downloads/resource/2014stats.pdf
Industry Overview 2014. (2015). Retrieved January 19, 2016, from http://nbda.com/articles/industry- overview-2014-pg34.htm
SBRnet. (n.d.). Retrieved January 21, 2016, from http://www.sbrnet.com.prox.lib.ncsu.edu/research.aspx?subRID=66
STATISTICS LIBRARY / PARTICIPATION STATISTICS. (2014). Retrieved January 22, 2016, from http://www.peopleforbikes.org/statistics/category/participation-statistics
Title IX Myths and Facts. (2015). Retrieved January 22, 2016, from https://www.womenssportsfoundation.org/en/home/advocate/title-ix-and-issues/what-is-title- ix/title-ix-myths-and-facts