An interesting exchange of views with one of my readers has left me thinking about the future direction of recreational cycling. Pete a chap that sells bikes for a living, had this to say:
The interesting thing here is perhaps BikesEtc is targeting a new audience? The bankers and the golfers got on board 08/09 onwards, but I have seen and noted (due to selling bikes) an increase in the “average Joe” buying road bikes due to the cultural shift and cycling being the recent new rock ‘n’ roll.
I call the average Joe someone who may read a red-top rather than a broadsheet, drink and smoke too. Football fans staying football fans, but enjoying the delights of a bike ride, though less high brow and educated, perhaps a “different class”. This buyer will always go for Di2, Ui2, carbon wheels buying on looks and spec rather than the right bike for the right terrain….but, the great thing is people are riding bikes!
Okay, so according to Pete he is seeing a slightly different demographic coming through the door of his shop. And clearly Dennis Publishing think that this new demographic is worth aiming for (they already have the bankers reading Cyclist) and have re-pitched BikesEtc at this new type of reader. I assume Dennis Publishing has done its research (focus groups, customer segmentation and clustering, all that stuff) and decided there is an expanding gap in the market for BikesEtc.
If Pete is right, this new customer is inexperienced, but prepared to spend decent money on flash kit to impress his mates. And the cover-lines on BikesEtc these days seem to suggest a Top Gear type of “nu-laddism” creeping into cycling. Obviously cycling is very cool compared to some sports…
…but is it cool enough to tempt Darren out of his Evo? Maybe it is. Maybe there is an emerging breed of C2s attracted by putting the hurt on their mates, mashing it up on Zwift, competing for bragging rights on Strava, and for whom the hard-man image of pro cycling is a draw. This would certainly explain why NutsEtc has employed a gym-rat and ex-staffer on Nuts magazine to edit their magazine. And it would explain why there’s so much “beasting”, “hammering”, “smashing” and other homo-erotic language in the mag. Basically it’s rugby-club mentality for people who don’t play rugby. It’s for the lolz n bantz, innit.
With Cycling Active abandoning the entry-level/no-frills market in favour of the middle-market and sportives, there is potentially space for something else. But NutsEtc seems to think that entry-level experience and mid-range spending power is the market, and that’s what they’re aiming at. In terms of ad revenue that’s a smart move, because there is not a lot of money in the sub-£1000 market. It will be interesting to see if this new demographic flourishes into a significant sector of the market, and what affect that might have on the market.
In the meantime, I’ve identified another untapped market and I’m launching a new magazine I’m convinced is going to be a huge hit: Celebrity Cyclist. All the news, all the goss, all the real-life stories about celebs and their bikes. Issue 1, priced 99p, will be on sale shortly.
I’ll be back on Monday with thoughts on the latest CA, and other things. In the meantime, follow me on Twitter @TranqilloTommy (or not, it’s up to you).