Ask the trade: does the bike industry have image problems?

Both inside and outside of our industry, disproportionate representation in imagery, sponsorship, recruitment and plenty more exists. We ask a panel of industry professionals if they think it’s time to actively redress the balance.

How can we create the new customers so direly needed by the bike industry?

Jenni Gwiazdowski, London Bike Kitchen

You get new customers by reaching out to people who were not typically marketed to in the past. Make them visible in your marketing, use them in your photos and videos, get them onto your advisory board or even as staff members. Get involved with and sponsor advocacy and campaign groups.

Adele Mitchell

Recently I have been discussing ways of making older women more visible, so I’ll refer to that. There are of course many other groups of people who are currently invisible in cycling. So, why bother to reach out to older women who ride? Well, there has been some excellent research that shows they have a lot more disposable income to spend than millennials, more free time and a great interest in keeping fit, being active and new experiences.

The truth is, it’s quite normal for older women to ride, and ride as well as anyone else – it just isn’t normal to see any of them represented in marketing campaigns. If we make older women visible in cycling then we are not just reaching out to them, we are also showing younger women that cycling is “for life” and not just something that you do to drop a dress size. This is an empowering story about the long-term benefits of cycling in terms of mental health, friendships, challenge and achievement, the opportunity to get out of your comfort zone – the list goes on.

So step away from the stereotypes. Not everyone over 45 wants an e-Bike. Find out what each potential group of customers is looking for, and what they want to achieve from the experience of buying, riding and owning a bike. And be friendly and interested.

Irene McAleese

We see potential for growth in the commuter market as cities try to encourage people to make the transition from commuting by car to commuting by bike. This will include more women, a larger range of ages etc. People are only going to travel by bike if they find it easy, pleasant and safe. One step is to build better infrastructure for cycling rather than rely on roads designed for cars.

That’s why at See. Sense we’re focused on making cycling safer, more convenient and more enjoyable, and why we are really excited about our up-coming product ACE. ACE is a connected bike light that makes cyclists more visible, and provides cities with information on the roads so planners can use these insights to create better infrastructure and policies to promote cycling.

Chris Garrison

The industry doesn’t need to “create” those customers, they already exist, the trade just needs to start talking to them. This isn’t limited to the big players themselves. This includes the stores that sit within local communities. Stores need to represent the communities they are in and the notion that those communities are simply made up of middle-aged, non-LGBT white men who want superbikes is ridiculous.

There is an argument to be made that the stores are a reflection of what the big companies in the industry do and if we use that logic you can see why a lack of diversity in the industry at large plays out in every operational cog.

Ceri Dipple, Twenty3c

We all need to play our part in our local communities to encourage as many people to get on bikes, to make sure it to feel like an inclusive environment whether that’s within cycling clubs, bike shops, or  simply  encouraging  friends  and family to  get  involved. You can’t buy participation,  you need  the right environment.

Hayley Everett

Multimedia Reporter

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