Embracing The Digital Cyclist

Changing Cycling Landscape

Cycling has seen a dramatic increase in popularity in the UK since the London Olympics and the success of Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome in Le Tour de France, not to mention Lizzie Armitsead and Laura Trott. The way the British public embraced road and track cycling during the Olympics undoubtedly played a part in Yorkshire’s selection as the Le Tour de France’s grand depart venue in 2014. Any major track cycling events sells out in the blink of an eye, the Tour of Britain has reinvented itself and the iconic Prudential RideLondon event, in it’s 4th year, is typically over-subscribed 3 to 1.[/vc_column_text][mk_image src=”https://vvsey3r5o954da0k02p9zymu-wpengine.netdna-ssl.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/02/Tour-of-Britain-1.jpg” crop=”false”][vc_column_text]Government initiatives including ‘cycle to work’ and improved infrastructure for cyclists have also contributed to this, making cycling more accessible and progressively safer. In fact, London’s cycle hire scheme continues to go from strength to strength, while bikes make up 16% of traffic in central London, rising to 25-50% during peak hours, with similar trends are seen all over the UK. It is not just road cycling that has seen a rise in interest and participation, mountain biking too has become more appealing to many with new wheel sizes 29er, 650b and bike parks making waves online in recent years.

Commuting and Health Benefits

According to the British Cycling, more than 2 million people in the UK cycle at least once a week, claimed to be an all-time high, while NHS figures state 3.1 million people ride a bicycle each month making it the 3rd most popular recreational sport in the UK. Doubling up as a form of transport, it is one of the easier sports to incorporate in to your daily routine, supported by IB Times who report a 7% increase in the number of journeys taken by bike, while the health benefits and reduced travelling expenses speak for themselves.

Digital Fuelling Commercial Success

This creates a thriving and competitive market from bikes to accessories to events to cycling trips, with IB Times claiming the industry to be worth in excess of £2bn, coupled with a 15% rise in bike shops across the UK. In 2015 Halfords’ annual bike sales surpassed £1bn for the first time, equating to 1.3 million bikes and an average of 3,500 bikes sold each day! This was driven by their premium bike range including Boardman and Pinarello which saw YOY sale increases of 24.9%, following 30% growth in the previous year. Halfords are now reportedly responsible for the sale of 1 in 3 bikes in the UK and make in excess of £26m per year from cycle repairs. Such is Halfords success and belief in the market they have reopened their specialist bike shop, Cycle Republic, having closed it in 2009, with analysts believing this could add £200m to sales, with share prices back at £5 for the first time since 2010.

Is Cycling The New Golf?

London based cycling clothing brand Rapha have also reaped the rewards of this boom, showing sales growth of more than 30% for the last 11 years! Their founder and chief executive Simon Mottram shared that their average customer is a man in his mid-30’s, but points out their fastest growing market is female road bikers. The phrase “cycling is the new golf” has been coined more and more recently with some people claiming to have facilitated business deals whist riding with prospective clients.

Brands Embrace Cycling

Cycling apps including Strava have seen huge increases in downloads and usage, allowing users to track, analyse, compete and share their achievements with the ever expanding cycling community. Such is the appeal of Strava that seasoned navigation expert Garmin have partnered with them to enhance both company’s offering. Cycling technology is constantly evolving and the desire for reliable real-time data is very apparent, as wearable technology including Fitbit continues to demonstrate.

Strava, Garmin, Garmin Connect

Importance of Google and SEO

As with any form of retail activity the journey generally starts online, with the below search trends emphasising the vital nature of cycling company’s digital presence if they want to join the party. This graph also has the characteristics of a gruelling ride’s elevation!

Google Cycling search trends

Furthermore, Google industry reports show a decrease in tablet and desktop search queries (10% and 9% respectively), however a 22% increase in mobile search queries making mobile optimised websites a must. Mobile and tablet searches now make up 51% cycling related search trends.

Growth in Cycling Holidays and Travel

Cycling trips, tours and holidays are increasing popular with the option to ride famous stages of Le Tour de France, La Vuelta and Giro D’Italia, not to mention the better weather, scenery and cycling conditions. These trips often have a charity focus supported by cycling clubs, corporate organisations and hobbyist riders of all ages and abilities. Corporate social responsibility is much more front of mind and cycling goes hand in hand with corporate events.
To find out more about how to make the most of cycling’s digital trends get in touch with us at Digital Clarity.

Darren Parsons
Darren is a member of Digital Clarity’s account management team. He has a wide interest and vast experience in sport sponsorship and marketing having worked in the industry for 9 years. Darren keeps up to date with market trends and enjoys facilitating the strategies companies use to digitally enhance their profile and visibility via various platforms.